Smile, Darn Ya Smile

Smile, Darn Ya Smile

Why You Should Smile While Wearing a Mask

With COVID-19 Disney Cast Members are required to wear a mask. And yet, they have to also provide great guest service. We look at the challenges and implications of smiling even when wearing a facial covering. And we see its application to your organization. You can find our podcast here on PodbeaniTunesSpotifyMyTuner, and ListenNotes.

Smile, darn ya, smile,
You know this whole world is a good world after all.
Smile, darn ya, smile,
And right away watch lady luck pay you a call.
Things are never black as they are painted,
Time for you and joy to get acquainted.
Make life worth while, 
Come on and Smile, darn ya, smile.

Service with a Smile

You may remember this tune, which was repopularized in the film, Who Framed Roger Rabbit. All of the ‘toons come together at the end of the film and join in unison on these words.

The greatest symbol of customer service is a smile. Having a smile is a part of what makes Disney legendary. For years making eye contact and a smile were the first of Disney’s Seven Service Guidelines. Under Disney’s Service Basics, Smiling is listed as the first way to project a positive image and energy. It’s been a heritage of Disney’s to have their hosts and hostesses greet others with a smile.

Disney Cast Member during a previous Mickey Not So Scary Halloween Party handing out candy. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

All that said, it’s not easy smiling at Disney. Sometimes it’s hot out there. The humidity is high. Lightning storms are on their way. There are more Guests than one knows what to do with. Lines queue in every direction. Some Guests are frustrated, even angry; others are cheating in line or ruining the Guest experience for others. The other Cast Members are exhausted and tired. To make matters worse, the boss comes parading through from having been behind his desk in an air-conditioned office and reminds you to smile.

It’s now been made even more challenging by wearing a mask. In fact behind a mask, who knows if you smile or not. Well, you actually do sound more upbeat, more positive, more caring when you smile–even if it’s under a mask.

It’s not easy—even at Disney. For instance, sometimes the prioritized standards of safety, courtesy, show, and efficiency lose their context.

Why Smile?

There has actually been a large body of work done on why smiling matters. Indeed, a casual look on the internet and you will find that it is said that a genuine smile…

  • Makes us more attractive.
  • Helps us to change our mood.
  • Provides us a greater attention/notice from others around us.
  • Boosts our immune system and overall health.
  • Utilizes approximately 16 facial/neck muscles; frowning takes 43.
  • Lowers the blood pressure.
  • Helps make people more successful in the long run.
  • Helps us stay more positive.
  • Releases endorphins that act as natural pain killers.
  • Boosts levels of Serotonin, which regulates our moods, sleep, sexuality, and appetite.
  • Acts as a natural painkiller.
  • Makes us look younger
  • Helps pave the way toward a better future.
  • Releases a warmer vocal tone.
  • Becomes contagious with others.
  • Relieves our stress.
  • Makes others more comfortable in our presence.
  • Triggers certain hormones, lowering heart rates, and steadying breathing.
  • Helps support our immune systems and fight illness.
  • Provides as much stimulation to others as eating 2,000 chocolate bars.
  • Becomes contagious.
  • Offers greater leniency to those facing a judge.
  • Eases the tension in an embarrassing moment. 

How To Smile Through Your Mask

Even if you have to wear a mask, there are other things you can do to create the same effect as a smile. Many of these are useful for when you are not wearing a mask as well. Here are ten simple things you can do.

  1. Keep Your Eye on The Smile. Eye Contact and the accompanying eye brows do make a difference. An article from NBC Today verifies that.
  2. Remove Sunglasses. The mirror to your soul is blocked if you have sunglasses.
  3. Wave. There is power in a wave.
  4. Open Gestures. All other open gestures can create for a friendly disposition.
  5. Language. Make sure your language is even friendlier than before.
  6. Lighten Up. You can use a sense of humor even when you have to use a mask.
  7. Serve. Provide really great service. When they see you’ve gone the extra mile they will know how friendly service really is.
  8. Engage. Support others in their effort to provide friendly service.
  9. Stay Positive. Attitude matters when it comes to getting through this.
  10. End Magically. That’s more than “Have a Magical Day.” It’s about getting people to a positive outcome.

Of course, if you’re like W.C. Fields you may be inclined to “start each day with a smile and get over it.” After all, like my Gen-Y daughter says, some jobs are “super sucky.” and even in the best job, there are days where you’re not going to want to smile. Sometimes you have to acknowledge that the circumstances in which you find yourself are awful and uncomfortable. However, you still have to…

Smile, darn ya, smile.

Souvenirs for You & Your Organization

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I smile? Do I enjoy smiling? Why? What’s in it for me?
  • Do I feel awkward smiling? If so, how do I make it part of my own nature?
  • Can I find a smile in serving others?
  • Do I take the lead in modeling the importance of keeping a smile on my face?
  • What can I do to keep a sense of humor and to lighten up?
  • Engaging with others keeps me focused on others rather than on my own needs. How can I stay more engaged and find a smile in serving others?

The importance of smiling, and so many other great ideas on customer service can be found in this book, The Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney. It’s available through this link at Amazon. Please check it out!

2nd Edition of The Wonderful World of Customer Service by J. Jeff Kober.
2nd Edition of The Wonderful World of Customer Service by J. Jeff Kober.

J. Jeff Kober