Why is it female newscasters smile more broadly and frequently than their male counterparts? The same thing happens in commercials that show “operators standing by to take your order”: the men look friendly, but the women show off two wide rows of pearly whites. I’ve noticed this in all sorts of ads, too numerous to remember specifically: whether they’re customers, service reps, spokesmodels or something else, women smile more than men.
Maybe this has something to do with why I feel pressured to smile at people at work when I pass them in the corridor. The guys generally don’t. It’s sufficient for them to have an upbeat tone of voice, nod, make eye contact. But from past experience, I know if I don’t smile, I get people asking me what’s wrong until I give in and smile to prove I’m feeling fine and I’m not mad at them.
I’m really not sure what this is about. The implication that strikes me is that the guys are too busy and focused to waste time smiling, but women don’t have anything that important to do, so they should make the time. We do have one woman in a fairly important position who generally doesn’t smile, but does have an otherwise very welcoming greeting – just like the guys. I wonder how long it took her to stop getting asked if she was okay when she didn’t bust her face a-grinnin’.
From my own experiments, I can tell you it doesn’t help women get taken more seriously in jobs and business transactions. You want to negotiate a better deal at a computer shop, or make them fulfill their obligations to you? Do not smile:
The smile is the ultimate sign of openness and friendliness, provided it is genuine. Many people force a smile when trying to be polite, but they tend to be fairly obvious about it. If she shows her teeth and has that sparkle in her eye, then you can deduce that she’s enjoying your company. Your only job is to keep her smiling by smiling back.
Actually, I recommend reading the whole page in the link. It suggests men who are uncertain whether women are interested in them should rely on all those 1950’s dating tips women learned in order to snag a honey: laugh yourself blue in the face at his jokes, lean so he can see your cleavage, and oh, yeah – smile yourself to early wrinkles (it’s okay, we’ve got Botox for you). Hmm. No wonder quality, non-game-playing women have trouble hooking up.
Laughing a lot is me. Using my tone of voice and making positive observations about people is me. Smiling, however, is not me. I’m going to give it a rest for a few days and see what happens. Can a woman be friendly in exactly the same way as a man and have it be taken the same? Doubtful: men who take no shit are cool, while women who take no shit are bitches.
But the only way to make things equal is to start acting like they already are.