I thought I would begin the year with a tip SONY DSCof advice everyone can use every single day.  This is something I am working on to make as a habit after being thrown in my face on my trip to the Dominican Republic.

There is a phrase every one of us hears every single day… “How are you?”  There are alternatives in all cultures, but the core question remains – how are you feeling at this moment?  The answer to this sets the mood for the interaction.

From my experience, here are the common responses:

Responses in America:
– Alright, Not Bad, or Pretty Good.
– “How are you?” (instead of answers, just asking the same question back.  Poor habit many of us have.)
– Hanging in there
– Another day…
– I’m doing fine.
– Not dead yet!

Responses in D.R.:
– Bien, gracias
– Muy bien!

Now, not to be naïve, I know that most people I met abroad kept the language simple for me with these responses.  I am sure there are people there that would have negative responses, like the ones I hear in America above.  After all, we are all human.

However, I spent five days without hearing negative answers to “How are you?”

What does that really mean?  I had time to notice this change in answering a common, everyday question and reflect on it.  How did it make me feel now that people answered this question with positivity?

An Experiment For You:
For you to understand, pay attention to your feelings next time you visit a hotel or a restaurant.  Take notice of how you feel about those attending to you.  Who do you like speaking with more than others?  Do you feel better around the hostess who brought you to your table with a genuine smile, or with the waitress who clearly has no interest in working tonight but persists to serve you on an as-needed bonus?  Is it the bellman throwing the fake smile on so he can get his tip and move on, or the front desk agent who discussed your trip with you with genuine interest?  Now, think about how they spoke and appeared.  I’m going to guess the ones you liked had positive connotations to whatever they said.

Yet, we so often speak with negative connotations, witty remarks built with negativity, and self-deprecation (hanging in there, not dead yet, and other cute little sayings).  Witty remarks may be a decent approach when said with a smile or genuinely humorous, but I believe humor can be fit in the conversation in another, more productive manner.

What else other than responding that you are “good”?  The most powerful way to reinforce whatever you say with positivity is to add in an authentic smile.  People can usually tell when you fake a smile — believe me, I do it all the time in forced photos.  But, a true authentic smile makes the difference between an average interaction, to one that resonates with you for the rest of the day.

Masterful presenters use it to make their audience be engaged, emotionally involved, and persuaded.  However, aside from business-related “manipulation”, you should see this as a way to manipulate people’s feelings in interactions with you to improve their days, and make yourself feel better.  At a primal level, smiling helps to make others around you feel more safe and secure, while building your own happiness within.  Experiments have been done, and evidence exists, that down to a physiological level, smiling moves facial muscles, altering the temperature of blood flowing through the brain, and inherently causing an emotional response within.

Like I learned from Dale Carnegie and Mark Bowden, a smile is one of the most powerful tools in making people like you, and spreading joy.  It would benefit anyone looking to improve their presence around others to watch Mark Bowden’s 20-minute TEDx Talk, “The Importance of Being Inauthentic“.


“Your smile is a messenger of your good will. Your smile brightens the lives of all who see it. To someone who has seen a dozen people frown, scowl or turn their faces away, your smile is like the sun breaking through the clouds.” ~ Dale Carnegie