Leading Edge / Spring 2003
Service With a Smile

Smiling can improve your work life


When you’re sad, the old advice to “turn that frown upside down” seems so corny. But a new study published in the Journal of Organizational Behaviour reveals that even a phony smile can improve your work life.

“Expressing happiness increases job satisfaction,” says Stéphane Côté, an assistant professor of organizational behaviour at U of T’s Joseph L. Rotman School of Management. One possible explanation is that if you’re cheerful with your clients, co-workers and boss, they’ll be nicer to you. This, not surprisingly, may lead to a more pleasant work environment.

In a study of service employees in the Ann Arbor, Mich., area, Côté found that displays of happiness can be fake or genuine, but both will improve your job satisfaction. That’s not the same as suppressing a show of negative feelings, which decreases job satisfaction, according to the study. So keep your job frustration bottled up while you’re at work and just smile, smile, smile.


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