8 min read

Lifehack your Smile, Upgrade your Hotel

The fact that lifehacks exist proves two things: 1. we’re doing just about everything wrong, and 2. there are those who’ve figured it all out and live in the future. Thanks to the Internet (Reddit), however, all the big brains living in 3020 have a way to share their surprisingly useful lifehacks with the rest of us.

As you guessed, the term “lifehack” comes from the hacker world - think programming geeks. It’s related to creating digital shortcuts that allow IT professionals (notoriously bad at real-world things) to get things done surprisingly well. These IRL analog hacks are smarter ways of making everyday stuff more efficient - and sometimes, like the example we are sharing today - more EFFECTIVE.

And the best part? Lifehacks usually rely on things you already have.  Nothing to buy, no new ingredients, just know-how, and some initiative.

So, ready? Want to improve your hotel? Immediately?
Here it is: Smile… but slowly.


The Grumpy Guest: A smile confuses a visiting frown 

All the relevant research agrees that regardless of how genuine, sparkling, insincere, embarrassed or fake your smile is - slowing it down will improve how it is received. Sometimes described as a long-onset smile (0.5s onset), it is seen as more impactful, and sometimes, when received by a woman, as flirtatious (men apparently regard all smiles, regardless of duration, or gender of the giver, as flirtatious). Also, "Slower onsets [of smiles] are associated with perceptions of greater genuineness or sincerity" (Krumhuber & Kappas, 2005; Schmidt, Ambadar, & Cohn, 2005 ). 

Recent studies replicated previous findings that a long-onset smile (0.5s onset) is seen as more authentic. On top of this, the researchers found long-onset smiles were perceived as more attractive, more trustworthy, and less dominant. 


Want to subtly add to the effect? Tilt your head slightly. 

Head tilting also increased attractiveness and trustworthiness but only if the head was tilted in the same direction. In this case, the right direction was the same way as eye orientation or towards a partner.


In an offensive world, a smile is the best defense.

Try it for yourself. The next person you make eye contact with, look at them, and then gently, slowly - maybe as they approach - give a small smile. Likely, the other person won’t be able to resist - their frown may lose its edge, or even, surprise! - a grin.


You can wear a smile without it costing anything. 

Mark Bowden in his new work, “Truth and Lies: What People Are Really Thinking” explores how body language can express warmth and trust. Being physically open, receptive, is the kind of body language Bowden said will best build trust — specifically, speaking with gentle, slow (there’s that word again!), open palm gestures at exactly the same height as one’s navel. He explains that this works because by exposing one’s center of gravity (“I call this the truth plane,” he says), gives a mental trigger that we pose no risk or threat and occupy a more comfortable space. Contrast this with standing with our arms hanging straight down, crossing them over our chest or putting our hands in our pockets, which Bowden said offers an audience “insufficient data” to decide someone is trustworthy. (Mark Bowden, 2019)


Like hospitality itself, a smile is no good until given away

Smiling is infectious. You don’t need studies to see the benefits of a smile in hospitality - just watch a sunny person meet a grumpy one, the smile almost always defrosts the frown. We are social herd creatures, ambling together and sharing feelings, thoughts and yes, smiles.  Smiles are contagious, just like yawns. So smile and start an epidemic.


The world always looks brighter from behind a smile.

While we can’t control every interaction we have on a day-to-day basis, we can control our attitude towards that interaction. A smile sets that attitude.


A smile is the shortest distance between two people.

Hoteliers that smile at guests say, “I see you, and I’m ready to help to the best of my abilities.” Even in the most difficult service situations, a slow smile triumphs.


A smile is the prettiest thing you can wear.

In fact, a smile itself — even when forced — changes attitudes. You might be surprised to learn that a slow smile when on the phone will actually change the tone of your voice, giving it a positive ring.


So how slow is slow?

We are only talking about less than a second! The psychologist Leil Lowndes explored this research in her thoughtful, practical (and recommended) book, “How to talk to anyone.” She wrote, “Let the big, warm, responsive smile flood over your face and overflow into your eyes. It will engulf the recipient like a warm wave. The split-second delay convinces people your flooding smile is genuine and only for them.”

So there you have it… When in doubt, smile like a lunatic – but slowly!

Can't get enough about smiles? Read more of our insane smile research here: https://www.aliceplatform.com/smile-research