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I’ll cover topics ranging from what to say and what not to say all the way to making your potential client feel validated, how to form genuine connections, staying motivated when you’re dragging, studying speech patters and intonation, how to remain in control of the conversation and managing the gatekeeper.

A Smile is Worthwhile

Scientists agree: smiling is contagious.  Everyone can feel it.  Smiling creates an environment that fosters genuine feelings of pleasure and satisfaction, even if the initial smile is manufactured.  It’s kind of like the old telemarketing adages and one of the most popular Cold Calling tips:  “fake it till you make it” or “smile when you dial.”  Even an initially fake smile can trigger a heightened sense of genuine satisfaction and joy for the smiler and those around him.

Early on in my career, I developed the ability to wear a smile like a mask – I could don the grin and remove it as appropriate. I didn’t, however, consider that a broad, twinkling (manufactured) smile – whether in person or on the phone – may as well have been made in China.  It was not a mood or an expression of joy or interest, it was a gimmick to be purchased at the corner store.  Worthless.

Yes, Science Backs Me Up

As documented in a 2008 study, there are distinctly different types of smiles that a listener can differentiate and “hear”, which effects how the listener interprets the speakers’ words and intonation.

A forced, fake smile is just that and nothing more.  Even if the person on the other end of the phone (prospective client, ex-spouse, whomever you’d like to impress that day) can hear your smile, and feel it – even if it uplifts them or alters the way they react to you…the face you just put on is false.  That means that any reaction you generate or receive is similarly false.

The picture associated with this post is my friend Brenda.  She was managing through a particularly difficult time recently, and creative genius that she is, created the piece of “smile art” that you see her holding.  Its purpose: to help her navigate through the burnout she was feeling and keep motivated and positive though she was facing daily challenges.  This begets the question – given that a manufactured smile is not the goal but rather a genuinely felt emotional smile, why would a cartoonish, prop smile do the trick?

Can Fake Become Real?

We’re missing a critical step here.  A late 19th century scientist can shed some light: French anatomist Guillaume Duchenne studied emotional expression by stimulating facial muscles with electrical currents.

Duchenne identified several categories of smiles but called the crème of the crop after himself.  A 1990 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology states, after further comparative research, “the Duchenne smile…is a better sign of enjoyment than other kinds of smiles.”  The Duchenne smile – one that is triggered by and radiates genuine and positive emotion, is contagious.

Brenda’s “prop” is a copy of a Duchenne smile.  By placing the Duchenne smile in front of her mouth, complete with the quote behind her from the famous Annie song “You’re never fully dressed without a smile” Brenda is capitalizing on creativity and science not to mask her real emotions but rather to create an environment that fosters genuine feelings of pleasure and satisfaction.

Smile More!

Brenda’s goal, and mine, is to smile more.  I used to want to smile so the person I was talking to would feel my manufactured charm and enthusiasm.  These days, my dedication and love for teaching Cold Calling methodology is genuine – I love what I do, and everybody can tell.  We all have bad days, but real smiles (and even copies of them) can actually improve our moods, and therefore our lives.


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