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    Smiling, Happiness, and How to Make a Good First Impression


      As the end of year and holiday season quickly approaches, many folks begin to focus on wrapping business up on a positive note, achieving goals, and positioning oneself for the year to come.

      I like to use November and December to review some of the classic personal improvement books I’ve collected over the years. My favorite, by far, is the Dale Carnegie stuff.

      One of my favorite chapters from How to Win Friends and Influence People is “A Simple Way to Make a Good First Impression.” Making a good impression is a great skill for lawyers, who are constantly looking for clients or referral sources. Although it’s a cliche, you only get one crack at making a first impression. You’re constantly networking, so you might as well do it to the best of your ability.

      As Carnegie points out:

      The expression one wears on one’s face is far more important than the clothes one wears on one’s back. Charles Schwab told me his smile had been worth a million dollars. And he was probably understating the truth. For Schwab’s personality, his charm, his ability to make people like him were almost wholly responsible for his extraordinary success; and one of the most delightful factors in his personality was his captivating smile.

      One of the reasons people like dogs, so much, Carnegie points out, is that they freak out with happiness when we walk in the door after being gone for a while. It’s a natural response to be glad to see them in return. Smiles serve the same function. When they’re genuine smiles, not a forced, phony, s***-eating grin, the people you meet are happy to make your acquaintance.

      Smiling makes us happy, which Carnegie points out is what everyone is seeking. He wrote in the 1930’s what modern “happiness scientists” echo today:

      Happiness doesn’t depend on outward conditions. It depends on inner conditions. It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.

      So show your teeth, stop complaining, and network effectively! As a Chinese proverb Carnegie points out states: “A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.”

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