A smile a day goes a long way when you pay

It is no “secret” that good customer service is the key to achieving business success and there have been numerous customer service seminars, workshops and conferences with building those skills that have taken place on Manitoulin in recent years. Aside from good business sense, however, there is another reason to greet people with a welcoming smile at the cash register because, sometimes, you can really ‘make someone’s day.’

In the increasing isolation of the digital age (not an oxymoron even given the bombardment of social media connections that abound these days) too many people, especially the elderly, find themselves drifting through the day with nothing to keep them company but memories and reflections of friends and family long gone from daily interactions.

Standing in line at the grocery counter it is an easy social experiment to observe what a difference a smile can make in someone’s day. Faces light up and a tired step finds a new spring when the person standing behind the counter greets a person with a friendly smile and a cheerful query. There are plenty of opportunities to witness this in action here on Manitoulin, for we are blessed with some very cheerful retail clerks in each of our communities.

For many people, those few moment of unthreatening banter plays may be their most engaged social interaction of the day—often brightening up that person’s whole week.

It can take effort to maintain a consistently sunny disposition and bright smile, for each of us carry our own burdens through life. Children, grandchildren, parents or spouses may be sick at home and constantly in our thoughts. There are bills to be paid, cars that need to be repaired and a myriad of other concerns of daily life that can cause us to inadvertently wear a frown as we go through our days.

But even as our own personal burdens may be wearing us down, rising above them to bring a smile into someone else’s day can actually help to lighten our own loads. Social science tells us that even pretending to be happy and cheerful actually helps to make people just that, lifting them up along with those who are the recipients of that proffered smile. Put plainly, it’s in our best interests to smile and make someone else’s day.

Being happy takes practice, like just about everything else in life. What better place to put some joy in your life then throughout the workday?

That holds true in the other direction as well. Having a little patience with a flustered young clerk when she or he is struggling with the till or to find a product number really doesn’t take so much effort—but it can go a long way in reducing their stress and making errors less likely.

Smiles, like yawns, can be highly contagious and a lot more welcome when you are on the receiving end, whatever side of the counter you are on.

If we all take just a little bit of effort in our days to smile and be kind to those around us, it will be a much better world for us all. Six degrees of separation is a well known concept in social networking so that smile you share today could quite literally change the world for a better tomorrow.