I had to make a difficult phone call today. It concerned one of my children and a problem that child is currently facing (or not facing). I was worried I wouldn’t express my concerns properly, worried that I would get emotional, worried that I wouldn’t be able effectively invite the person I was calling to be part of the solution. I tend to be serious-minded (that’s an understatement) and when you take a naturally serious person who’s trying to be serious about a big thing, well, you get a LOT of serious going on, and that’s not always helpful.
I took a deep breath. I went into a room by myself and started smiling until it felt genuine. Then I got out a pen and paper to take notes and dialed the number. My #1 thought was to keep the smile on my face so I would have a smile in my voice.
It worked. I had a very pleasant conversation about a very unpleasant thing. I got the information I needed. I know what I need to do next, and the individual I spoke with essentially joined my team, volunteering to do something TODAY which will help. She transferred me to another department and the smile in my voice led that conversation as well. The next person was also helpful, even discovering a small mistake on her end which will make what we need to do just a bit easier.
I hung up the phone smiling. Is the problem we are facing any less serious than it was before? Absolutely not. But by dealing with it in a pleasant, cheerful way, I nurtured small relationships within the community that can help my child instead of isolating myself by allowing my stress, worry and fears to translate into my tone of voice. I was happy as I ended the call, feeling more in control of my part in the situation.
With that success behind me and an even bigger smile on my face, I made a few more phone calls. The doctor’s office had overlooked something I needed help with. I needed information from two different schools regarding two of my students. I needed to make a last minute change with a dental appointment. In every case, the smile on my face made all the difference. Little inconveniences that could have frustrated both myself and the people on the other end of the phone went well, with compliments, laughter, helpfulness and courtesy woven throughout.
And all because I led with a smile.
So today, what can you do to put a smile on your face? I will testify that if you keep a smile on your face long enough, you will feel happy. Two hours later, I’m still grinning. I will also promise you that if you keep a smile on your face, your voice will reflect happiness and goodwill, thus spreading happiness even to those who can’t see you. I have learned and re-learned this lesson so many times, and yet I still need reminders!
Here are a few things I like to do to get myself smiling: play a favorite song, turned up loud, and sing along until you feel the smile sticking where it should be. Look in the mirror and smile at yourself until it’s a genuine one. Set an alarm (on your phone, perhaps) to go off ten minutes before the craziest parts of your day begin. Have the reminder simply say: SMILE. I use Google Calendar sometimes to do this, creating an event and scheduling reminders because yes, sometimes smiling needs to be an EVENT. Making it one reminds me how important it is to choose to smile. Or you can try my favorite thing: spend a few minutes watching or interacting with children, and you’ll find it impossible not to smile. They do it constantly and it will rub off on you. Don’t have any children around? That’s ok. Get online and find pictures of happy children and you’ll be smiling in no time. I’ve also read that pictures of pets make people smile, so you can try that, too. Just do something to get your brain’s attention and make yourself smile. Do it at least ten times today.
Good luck, and happy living!