Daily Archives: March 9, 2007

The Secret to Making People Smile

The Secret to Making People Smile
by Matt Hatson

The principle behind OneKindAct is that you take the time to do something for someone else, to make them feel better. It doesn’t have to be anything dramatic, expensive or overly ambitious, and for me being able to make someone else smile is not only a great gift to others but one you yourself benefit from. I’m sure you know or know someone who knows someone who just seems to lighten the mood when he or she comes in to the room. Perhaps that person seems to have an infectious laugh , tells great jokes or, in many cases, seems to cheer people up and you aren’t so sure why. Well these skills are learnable and here I’ll give you a few insights in to ways that you can be that person, and believe me being able to make people smile is a great personal investment.DayDream

What state are you in?

Whatever a person is doing, they are in a state of mind (we’ll call it state), this is akin to a mode of operation for a machine or computer, and our state varies greatly throughout the day. In some cases our state is a conscious decision – perhaps when reading or going out for a run, but for much of the day our state is governed by our unconscious. Yes, that’s right, the part of us that does all of the work. Whilst our conscious mind is busy trying to remember about 7 things at a time, our unconscious mind is busy keeping us breathing, monitoring the surrounding area for threats to our survival, and recording everything you see, hear and feel for processing at some point. It is estimated that the unconscious is remembering about a million things at a time, so it really is the underwater bit to the conscious mind’s tip of the iceberg.

So what you ask? Well the unconscious also processes all of the words you hear and read. When it does so, it has to make sense of them by referring to their meaning in your memory. Many words evoke emotions or have emotions attached to them, and so to make sense of the words it has to access the images, feelings and sounds related to them. These, to a greater or lesser extent, affect your state. Everything you see, hear, feel, taste, touch and a bunch more besides has the potential to affect your state at both unconscious and conscious levels.

Not convinced? Ok try this. Take a deep breath, breathe it out and read the next group of words.

Depressed, anxious, angry, sad, death, pain, sad, lost, crying, hurt, broken.

How do you feel? If you feel any different to how you felt before reading this article then I have changed your state. Hooray for me.

Get up and shake that out. Think for a moment about something fun you are going to do this week.

Now, take another deep breath and breathe it out, then read these words.

Happy, smile, giggle, laughing, love, kindness, hug, friends, joy, delight, grin.

How do you feel now? Any different? For most people they will feel better reading the second set of words because they put you in to a much nicer state (it takes less muscles to smile than frown, and this seems to be the guide for other aspects of our neurophysiology).

And so, to my point. What you say and how you say it can have a dramatic effect on your state and those around you. Being aware that people are in states all the time means that you can influence them. Try it out today – be deliberate with your wording and notice any changes in a person – posture, colouring, breathing rate are easy signals to notice.

However before you set about tackling the office downer, a word of caution. People in down states are often annoyed by people in up states – the greater the difference between your state and their state, the more likely that you will annoy them. There is a way around this, and it’s called: Continue reading