“You have the kindest eyes I have ever seen!” exclaimed Orly. My friend was commending David, a fellow delegate at an international conference. I looked at David who was smiling in acknowledgment. And I could see that his eyes were smiling too. Someone started softly singing “When Irish eyes are smiling”, and everyone in the group chimed in, and everyone was smiling.
"Smiling is infectious,
You catch it like the flu.
When someone smiled at me today,
I started smiling too."
Dale Carnegie, the author of the all-time best seller, How to Win Friends and Influence People, notes that "the expression one wears on one's face is far more important than the clothes one wears on one's back." A smile is indeed a beautiful thing to behold as it is a universal symbol of goodwill and kindness.
Why is a smile so important especially in the hospitality industry?
The hospitality industry is precisely what it is – an industry where we are hosts and all our customers are guests to our hotel. As hosts, it is our job to ensure that our guests are welcomed, and feel welcomed. Mahatma Gandhi’s famous quote about the customer is most applicable to our business:
“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises, he is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favour by serving him. He is doing us a favour by giving us an opportunity to do so.”
A smile is the most powerful tool of non-verbal communication. It is almost always the first thing someone will notice about you. A smile, both physically as well as subconsciously, transmits the message of goodwill more effectively than anything else I can think of. It says, “Hello, welcome to our hotel. I'm glad you're here and I'm happy to see you. How may I serve you today?”
Smiling is the best way to begin a relationship. It disarms and makes your guests feel comfortable and relaxed because it exudes a warm positive energy and extends a personal touch. A genuine smile signals to your guests that you care and that you are committed to make their experience a pleasant and enjoyable one.
The power of the smile goes beyond the initial welcome it communicates to your guests. It is one of the most powerful and most underrated gifts peculiar only to our species. Burdened with anxieties, we often drag our feet, struggle with fear, constantly waiting for something to come along to cheer us up. We forget that all the while, deep inside us, we possess this incredible tool to raise our spirits. When we smile, something literally lights up within the deep recesses of our being, and we find ourselves becoming more positive about ourselves and our environment. Recall for a moment, the experience of exchanging a smile with another and looking into someone’s smiling eyes. Did you not have this positive feeling that a world of warmth and goodness is being spontaneously communicated?
Amazingly, when we feel good about ourselves, we naturally begin to share this gift with others. The smile becomes the window for the light of human love to shine from within us. Positive psychologists have found that a smile works magic. A smile makes your guests feel significant and assure them that they are wanted, accepted and appreciated. It is an effective antidote to calm fear, remove insecurity, eliminate anxiety, and heal hurt. Each of us has a unique smile that not only brings joy to ourselves; it also quickly infects others around us with joy.
In our industry, you can use the gift of your smile to spread joy, love and inspiration. You can help lift the spirits of those around us when they need a boost. For one person, that gift could be having a way with words; for another, it’s a knack for anticipating unexpressed needs. Your smile has the power to heal, to move and to inspire. What a shame it would be to let this power within you go to waste.
Make a simple commitment today: smile and smile often. Smile at yourself, smile at a loved one, smile at your colleague, and smile at a stranger. Above all, conduct yourself at work as a caring and kind host, and always smile at your guests. Always carry out your duties, however simple or onerous, with a smile, knowing that you are spreading love, joy and inspiration all around. Whatever you do, your service with a smile does make a difference.
“Smile, and the world smiles with you…” Don’t start your day without it.
Dr. William Wan,
Singapore Kindness Movement.
Oct 8, 2012.