Managing Employees

Does Your Staff Smile Too Much?

Written by Jay Shapiro for Gaebler Ventures

She's grinning like the Cheshire Cat of Alice in Wonderland fame. She's always cheerful. Why then do your clients find this particular staff member of yours irritating and rather disconcerting.

In a previous article we focused on the problem of miserable staff members and how they can be seriously detrimental to your business's success.

In stark contrast we now look at the staff member who is almost too happy. Boy, why can't there ever be a balance?

We've all come across salespeople or waiters who are all smiles. They grin so much you get the impression they've evolved facial muscles that the rest of us don't have. They are all sparkly teeth and pleasantries. But that's great isn't it? Not always.

Here's how Grinning Greg and Smiley Sue can damage your business:

The problem is that the overly exuberant joyous member of staff doesn't always come across as sincere. Their grins are a bit too 'showbiz' and strained. They put you in mind of the fake beams that beauty pageant girlies adopt when they known their vicariously living mothers are behind them with a can of hairspray held at a menacing angle. The smiles stretch the mouth, show the pearly whites and lift the cheeks but… they never reach the eyes.

Human beings have an innate ability to spot fakes. And when we spot them we don't like it. We feel uncomfortable.

The ever so smiley staff member can be a problem.

Why and when?

Consider this: Their perpetual smiling isn't appropriate if a customer has a problem. But as it is the only facial expression they are used to using they find it hard to drop when things get serious. So they smile when they shouldn't.

For example:

There is something very disconcerting about a person who is saying "We're terribly sorry that your meal had an eel in it that nearly killed your husband, madam," if they are saying it with a smile as wide as a slice of water melon. That gives the impression that they're not sorry about the eel and they don't care two hoots about the near demise of the husband. We'll attribute this sort of unsuitable beaming to Grinning Greg the waiter.

So what about Smiley Sue, the sales assistant? Let's say it is she who deals with your having to return goods that were, upon being opened on your three year old's birthday, found to be damaged. If Sue keeps up with the contorted smile you're not going to get the feeling that she empathizes with the trauma of the situation. And you won't feel confident that Sue will provide suitable recompense. In fact, she's grinning so much, even though you have a crying toddler in tow, that you get the impression she's laughing at you. Not good!

Smiling is good, of course it is, but when it's forced or inappropriate it is just as detrimental as a total lack of it.

You can make assessments on this dilemma at the point of interview. If someone grins their way through the more serious side of an interview then they're probably best avoided. Sincerity can't be learned and insincerity can't be hidden for long. It's worth remembering that when next you think of employing that 'nice girl who smiled all the time'!

Jay Shapiro is a freelance writer based in the UK. Jay has a particular interest in the emotive aspects of the entrepreneur's character. "Alongside the nuts and bolts of business, the character of the person is often the ingredient responsible for success."

Share this article

Additional Resources for Entrepreneurs

Lists of Venture Capital and Private Equity Firms

Franchise Opportunities


Business Glossary


Conversation Board

We greatly appreciate any advice you can provide on this topic. Please contribute your insights on this topic so others can benefit.

Leave a Reply

Questions, Comments, Tips, and Advice

Email will not be posted or shared
Code Image - Please contact webmaster if you have problems seeing this image code

Problem Viewing Image? Load New Code