Smiling is one of the most important things you can do. Iâ€™m not talking about that fake â€œIâ€™m-trying-not-to-choke-you-because-youâ€™re-annoying-me-but-I-have-to-be-polite-to-youâ€? smile, but rather an honestly heartfelt â€œI am so happy to see youâ€? smile.
Iâ€™ll never forget something that happened many years ago when I worked the front desk of a hotel while I was in college. Dozens of guests checked in every evening during my shift. One evening, about thirty minutes after a particularly busy rush of check-ins, a guest returned to the lobby and handed me a card and recognition ribbon. These ribbons were sent to members of the hotel chainâ€™s frequent guest program because as frequent guests, they knew better than anyone else what exceptional service was and if a hotel employee had provided it. A ribbon was given to directly to the employee and the accompanying card was given to the hotel manager. I was a little surprised to receive it; I had only worked there a few weeks and it was the first such ribbon Iâ€™d been given. I told the guest thank you and asked him what I had done that was so special. His reply was simple. â€œYou smiled at me.â€? I must have looked puzzled, because he continued, saying â€œNo one has smiled at me all day. I had an awful day filled with grumpy people. When I came in, there was a line of people waiting to check in and your phone was ringing. If anyone had a right to be grumpy, you did, but you werenâ€™t. You glanced up, smiled at me, and said youâ€™d be with me as soon as you could. That made my day a little better and you deserve to be recognized for it.â€? I was surprised that my smile made that much difference, but the longer I worked there, the more I came to realize how important smiling was. I came to realize just how much of a difference it could make to a harried traveler or a stressed businessman if I smiled at them. And it can make that same difference to everyone, everywhere. Now, I admit, there are people in this world that make it very difficult to smile at them. For instance, there was a guest at the same hotel who somehow managed to blame ME when the airline lost his luggage. (Itâ€™s true; you canâ€™t make this stuff up!) But when faced with people like that, I always try to remember that they probably need a smile more than anyone else.