Judi James, one of the UK's leading body language experts, explains to us what are smiles really mean.
It's National Smile Month, so we want to find out all we can about our mouths.
Other than being happy is there anything else a smile can reveal?
“Happiness is probably the emotion that smiles are used least for. A smile can reveal when you’re frightened, feel slightly intimidated by somebody, or just want to be socially acceptable. You can use a smile of encouragement if you want somebody to speak more or make them feel more comfortable. Then there’s the maternal or paternal instinct a smile can reveal, where we feel a genuinely deep affection for somebody. Everyone has a smile to make other people smile, something a bit goofier and more fun. We tend to equate the smile with the emotion of happiness when in actual fact we use it for many more emotions and reasons than that. We can even use a smile to simply be dismissive – it can be used for both good and bad emotion.”
How can smiles affect our confidence?
“Research released by Invisalign shows that people with a great smile are seen as more successful, wealthier and more likely to get a job than those with crooked teeth and a bad smile. They’re also seen as more popular, more sociable, healthier and happier. When we imagine someone being confident, we imagine them smiling. When you smile it has an intrapersonal effect, which means it can boost your confidence. We call this ‘changing your state’, where you adopt the body language of the person you want to be rather than the person you’re feeling like at that moment. A smile will change your inner feelings as well, so it will boost your inner confidence because you change your outer shell.”
What things might we not know about our smiles?
“We never realise how many times we smile during the one day. We remember the big moments, but there are so many more times where we smile and it doesn’t register in our memory.
Interestingly, I would estimate that 80% of our smiles after we’ve left the home are ‘acted’ smiles rather than the genuine thing. However, these smiles are vital for social acceptance. We perform them because we feel we need to look good or be more agreeable, rather than because we’re feeling genuinely happy.
We do not realise how many different mouth shapes we use when we smile. There is one I am particularly fond of because it’s quite grim! When you’re walking around at work or pass someone you know in the street, you may think that you’ve smiled at them but what a lot of people actually do is an upturned smile, where in fact your mouth pulls right down at the corners and you do a mouth shrug. You think you’ve smiled but actually you’ve pulled an even more miserable face. It’s a type of long suffering smile, but it is used in the same way as greeting with a genuine smile.”
Invisalign is the virtually invisible way to straighten your teeth and help boost your confidence, for more information visit www.invisalign.co.uk.