Sometimes the best advice is to ignore someones “helpful” advice. In the next couple weeks I’ll be talking about experiences where I’ve disregarded bad advice. What about you? What advice have you received and chucked out the window as useless?
I was told once to “smile less” this advice was given to help me be taken “seriously.” I wish I had done something other then smile and thank the person (yes, I smiled and thanked them for telling me not to smile). I didn’t have any kind of comeback so I just smiled and left. I took the advice seriously and thought about it but it didn’t make sense. I decided it was crap and moved on with my life.
You see, I come from a long line of smilers, my dad was in sales and always told me: smile, smile, smile. Unless she is yelling at me, my mother is always smiling and her laugh can be heard across a restaurant. With that background smiling came easy to me and still does:
You notice though that is a real smile right? I’m not talking about fake smiles. A real smile is triggered by a completely different part of your brain than the polite smile and there is a difference between the two. Check out this cool test from the BBC, it tests how well you detect fake versus genuine smiles. I got 13/20 right. Need some more advice on how to smile correctly? Check out this wiki .
Why am I rambling on and on about smiling? Because I think a genuine smile can go a long way in our world. We see people at some of the most stressful times of their lives: interviewing, first day at a new job, going on and coming back from medical leaves, promotions, coaching, the list goes on. A genuine smile is welcoming and helps put people at ease.
Why did I decide to disregard that horrible advice? Because I know personally how powerful a smile is. I started in HR at a large, traditional bank that was housed in an imposing downtown skyscraper. When I arrived for my interview I was greeted by an HR assistant who I would work closely with. Right off the bat she greeted me with a bright smile and put me at ease. As we walked the labyrinth of corridors to the HR offices we talked about the company and continued the conversation as I waited for my interview. When I left my interviews she walked me back out, smiling and chatting the whole time. I thought to myself “What a cool person, I could totally work with her.”
Luckily the rest of the team liked me as well and I got the job. In the time I worked with her I saw a genuine person who put everyone at ease with a smile, who was friendly, patient and always professional. I can’t think of a better person for a candidate, new hire or employee to see when they stop in to HR.
I am so happy I had her for reference when I thought about that advice. It was a strong example that didn’t give me pause or doubt. I just knew the advice was crap and moved on.