Shake Your Shyness and Shine!

by Edith Barnard
Barnard Communications

Fighting to overcome your shyness in a business situation? An invaluable tool is already as close as your own face.

Smiling is such a simple, basic tool that we often don’t think about it. We may be so focused on networking that we don’t realize we’re walking around with a scowl. But people are more likely to warm up to someone who says hello with a broad smile. A warm, friendly smile shows you’re relaxed and comfortable, which means you’ll come across as confident and secure.

Don’t feel like smiling? Here’s the best part: when we make ourselves smile, we stimulate the same part of the brain that’s active when we smile naturally. Essentially, we command our brain to start feeling more positive emotions.

What goes on in our brains when we smile? Imagine a pleasant situation, like bumping into an old friend. When our brains feel happy, endorphins are produced and neurons signal our facial muscles to smile. This begins a positive feedback loop. When our smiling muscles contract, they fire a signal back to the brain, stimulating our reward system and further increasing our level of endorphins. In short, when our brains feel happy, we smile; and when we smile, our brains feel happier.

Does faking a smile sound hard? No worries. Try just being with someone who smiles. It is difficult to keep a long face when we look at people who are smiling. Smiling is contagious because seeing people smile stimulates our own mirror neurons. “You smile, I smile” is a scientific fact!

Smiling also brings health benefits, like lowering anxiety, blood pressure and heart rate. The happiness a smile can bring to our brains is estimated as the equivalent of eating 2,000 bars of chocolate. Who needs chocolate to be happy? A single smile will do!

For shy people (and aren’t we all?), smiling is the easiest and most effective first step to enjoying getting to know people. After all, that’s what it’s all about! iBi

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