Women at Work Should Smile Less to Earn More

woman at workCathie Black's non-stop smiling seems to clash with the gravitas of the responsibility of heading the New York City school system. Also, for women of a certain age smiling too much can scream "insecurity."

In this tough economy, employers don't want women employees lacking in confidence. American women who want to earn decent money might get serious about smiling less.

Think how U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, feminist lawyer Gloria Allred, television reporter Diane Sawyer, and Internet entrepreneur Laurel Toby tend not to flash the pearlies. A half smile, then they get down to business. It's been conjected that former head of the Red Cross Elizabeth Dole stumbled in politics because she clung to being a lady, along with the ongoing gracious smile.

This concern about the downside of smiling isn't new. Way back in 1985, Time brought up the subject. For example, the article pointed out how in many cultures, including American, smiling is a sign of surrender, not strength -- nevermind power.

So, how do you -- the female who needs to earn a living and is ambitious enough to change to get ahead -- manage the smile issue? Here are some ideas:


1. Enter a situation with a small smile.

This is still a patriarchal culture and it's expected that women will know their place by smiling when entering a room, a meeting, a new situation. But then allow that smile to slide into an attentive facial expression which communicates high engagement in what's going on.


2. Leverage smiling to gain cooperation, allies, and influence.

Never underestimate the power of femininity. When someone needs reassurance, such as at a meeting, a warm smile goes a long way.


3. Acknowledge a temporary lack of power by a smile of surrender.

When you need help or forgiveness, a smile signaling surrender is the right gesture. As you regain your position, smile less.

Next: Why Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

40 Comments

Filter by:
Dr. Ken Hildebrandt

Apparently the author thinks money is more important than happiness.

December 11 2010 at 9:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
George D

Go online to the ATT website and look at that troll they have in her business suit and odd, non smiling face. Then tell me that invites business or gives the image of "power". When I see "fake" people, pretending to be serious about something or over asserting themselves, I see INSECURITY and WEAKNESS. The person that is at ease, smiles, maybe even cracks an appropriate joke, to put others at ease, comes across as the winner, and the one who is in charge, to me.
As usual, take these "pearls of wisdom" in these aol articles, with a grain of salt.

December 11 2010 at 8:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ann

AND WHAT ABOUT THE WOMEN THAT CONSTANTLY WALK AROUN WITH A LITTLE SMERKY SMILE.
THAT LOOK LIKE THEY HAVE SOMETHING ON SOMEONE? VERY IRRITATING

December 11 2010 at 8:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Laura Lynn

Who is the idiot that thought all this up? What the work place, and the world in general needs most, are happy smiling people and that includes women. Smiling does not make you look insecure, it make you look positive and confident in yourself, in your work, and in those around you. When you smile your mood is automatically positive and happy and that reflect in your work. And smiles are contagious so the more you smile the more others around you will smile and the better your work environment will be and productivity will increase.

December 11 2010 at 7:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
gposner29

Anyone have the time?

December 11 2010 at 7:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
M.Young

I can't believe how STUPID this is. Noone would say anything if a man smiles a lot. I am a natural smiler...I do it automatically. This should not affect anyone's perception of me on the job at all. Ridiculous. God help the world that is chock full of Gloria Allreds and Nancy Pelosis.

December 11 2010 at 7:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ginny Sinclair

I think people who write dumb things like that only want to see their name in print. And don't know what they're talking about. Keep smiling. Ignore the negative things prople are saying about it.

December 11 2010 at 7:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
isisreptiles

Smiling has its place and is a good thing in moderation, but anyone--male or female--who is constantly smiling, comes across as phony and insincere. A neutral facial expression is better.

December 11 2010 at 7:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ED

Another idiot birdbrain article from a stupid woman. No wonder women are confused and messed up reading this nonsense. One minute it's smile, next don't smile. Next be firm. Next, don't be a bitch. Next, be yourself...don't diet to please a man. Next, how to find a man. Feminists and stupid women should be deported to Iran.

December 11 2010 at 6:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ED

Another idiot birdbrain article from a stupid woman. No wonder women are confused and messed up reading this nonsense. One minute it's smile, next don't smile. Next be firm. Next, don't be a bitch. Next, be yourself...don't diet to please a man. Next, how to find a man. Feminists and stupid women should be deported to Iran.

December 11 2010 at 6:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Search Articles

Top Companies Hiring

Week of Aug 17 - Aug 24
View All

Featured Writers

Meet the team

Picks From the Web