top of page

Cheer Leadership Tip 6 - Just Smile

There are many ways to be intentional with this tip. One way is when you’re delivering challenging news to the team, deliberately smile to soften the blow. Sadly, so many people are not intentional about using this simple facial gesture to communicate joy and happiness. Consider Albert Mehrabian’s widely respected communication formula: 55 percent of communication is body language, 38 percent is tone of voice, and only seven percent is the actual words people use. However, as Mehrabian further explains in his book Nonverbal Communication: “When there are inconsistencies between attitudes communicated verbally and posturally, the postural component should dominate in determining the total attitude that is inferred.” We conclude from his research that the facial expression of a smile communicates more than the words being said.

One way to be intentional with this tip is when delivering challenging news to the team, deliberately smile and that will soften the blow. You will subliminally cheer on your team by subconsciously communicating that everything is going to be fine. Your smile transfers confidence as the quarterback of the team who has the best interest of the players at heart. As you exude positivity, the team will rally about the possibilities going into the next quarter! While this impact may be hard to detect, if you are paying attention, you’ll notice a quiet calm as the team enters the game with a solid confidence with you as their leader.

Did you know that researchers from Durham University found that babies practice smiling in the womb? This simple, yet extremely powerful facial expression is something innate in humans before we are even born!

At work, a smile can go a long way in building trust and loyalty with your team, especially when you have to deliver disappointing or unfavorable news. Perhaps the team didn’t quite hit their sales goal for the quarter; maybe the net promoter score numbers are lower than expected; or you found out that the hot prospect the entire group has been working to woo went with your competitor. If you deliver the news with a smile, it will convey that you are still behind your team 110% , ready to really for the next big push. Just make sure there isn’t a disconnect between your verbal and nonverbal communication, as this could make you come off as being disingenuous. Being aware of our nonverbal communication allows us to deliver the message in the way we intended.

As an added bonus, there are numerous benefits to sharing a smile. Smiling is contagious and can actually elevate our mood. By smiling at your team, they will smile as well, which will help turn any negative attitudes around. Smiling can also reduce blood pressure, relieve stress, and boost immunity (a double bonus during these drab, cold, flu-filled winter months)!

This week, I challenge to make a more conscious effort to smile. Smile at Irina, the receptionist, as you walk into work. Smile at Juan from accounting when you hop on the elevator. Smile when you hold the door open for Kiran from customer support. Perhaps most importantly, smile while interacting with your team. You don’t have to plaster on a fake, Joker-ish smile. A warm, genuine smile will fit the bill. We’d love to see some of your smiling selfies with your team! Email them to and don’t forget to Cheer On Your Team!

FUN FACT: University of California San Francisco researcher Paul Ekman and his colleagues identified 19 different types of smiles. Categorized into two basic categories, polite “social” smiles engage only mouth muscles, and genuine, happy “felt” smiles activate muscles on both sides of the mouth and around the eyes. Felt smiles light up the left frontal cortex of the brain where pleasure is registered.


bottom of page