Dressing for success includes wearing a smile

“The expression one wears on one’s face is far more important than the clothes one wears on one’s back.” — Dale Carnegie

In his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie spends an entire chapter on the power of a genuine smile. He clearly makes the point that he is talking about the real thing, not the mask that many people put on to show how “happy” they are. In fact, even when talking to someone on the phone, you know if there is a smile on the other end of the line. It comes across in both tone and volume.

There is positive power in a smile and building relationships. There is also a great deal of negative power in the opposite. Several years ago, I had a salesperson working the northern part of our franchise territory. He had been with me for a couple of years and was doing fairly well, until I started to notice a gradual decline in his production. In addition, I started to receive calls from long-term clients about their interactions with him. They told me that he was in the habit of complaining about everything that was going on his life. Being in the professional and personal improvement business, this was not the best news to hear. After many one-on-ones and coaching scenarios, I finally had to let this individual go. His attitude was actually hurting our business and our reputation!

Leo Buscaglia, the “Doctor of Love,” often told the story of the disconnect between the words coming out of our mouth and the expression on our face. In response to the “How are you?” question, the rote answer is “Fine.” When he saw a facial expression that was not in alignment with “Fine,” he strongly suggested: “For God’s sake, why don’t you tell your face!”

I have a buddy who was recently in one of those serpentine lines in a fast food restaurant. He noticed two things as he got closer to the ordering station:

  1. There was a big sign on the wall that detailed the restaurant’s customer service pledge. Basically, it said if we do not greet you with a friendly smile and positive attitude, your food is on us.
  2. Not only was there not a smile to be found among the restaurant’s employees, he noticed exactly the opposite — “almost hostile,” according to my friend.

When he finally reached the ordering station and placed his order, he also told the counter person that he wanted his food to be free. He referred to the pledge on the wall. Having been well trained (I am sure), the counter person went and got the manager. The hostile manager asked what the problem was and ultimately gave my friend his food and a couple of free meal gift cards. This was all done without even a teensy attempt of empathizing with my friend, the customer. Sad but true story. You can advertise your wonderful business all day long, but if the follow-through service is not there, it’s a waste of money.

On a more positive note, I recently had to replace an old telephone headset. After going through all the implementation steps in setting up the new headset, I still could not get it to work. After placing a call to their customer service team, my problem was fixed within 5 minutes, and a very upbeat guy named Johnny fixed it. After that, I shortly received an email from Johnny stating that he would be there for me if any other problems occurred. That is called positive customer service with a smile!

I have heard it said that there are two types of people in this world:

  1. In one case, the room will light up when they come in.
  2. In the second, the room will light up when they leave.

As you look at that person in the mirror, it is always a good idea to reinforce the importance of being No. 1 above!

Finally, if you go looking, you can find more than one article or book on how to “dress for success.” If you truly want to dress for success even more effectively, be very aware of how you look from the neck up. It does make a difference!

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