To Smile or not to Smile..Power and Neuroscicence

So, you cross each other through the elevator, or halls of the company... This one never smiles.You wonder, people wonder...

According to Holtz in Wall Street Journal  people who think that they are in a position of power would have a tendency to smile less, or not to smile back. According to a research from The University of California  in San Diego
"a smile can embody workplace authority".
The research used facial electromyography method. It recorded involuntary facial muscles movements. They concluded that "when people felt they were powerful themselves, they would rarely return a high-ranking person's smile" and "those who felt more powerless, however, automatically mimicked everyone else's smile, regardless of rank." There is a large bank on related research on UCSD's site should you be interested in reading further on the subject.

One thing is sure, there are intricacies between emotions, perceptions, culture and reactions whenever you refer to an original research conducted in Stanford. It refers to cultural neuroscience.

So, does the "boss effect", according to "which the social pressure of status and power affects our neurobiology" explains why that person never smiles? In fact, I know of two individuals who never smile. Actually, those individuals never greet you willfully!! To the extent that one day another manager said in smiling "yes, we have to get used to it. Some people never smile. They never say hi to you".

How sad is that? How worse could it be when HR is known for their "frown" as their "uniqueness" of expression? I am not in a position to conclude that the "boss effect" is right or wrong. I do know of common things about the two managers who never smile - as much as possible - 1) They are both in positions of power at different levels . 2) They have demonstrated serious "weaknesses" in their managerial/leadership skills that have become obvious to all employees. 3) They are not particularly liked by employees. In fact they are either disliked or have lost all professional respect. 4) Employees submit to them because they are in a position of power.

So, yes, you are in a position of power. It is common knowledge. And yes, you get what you want. Is that all that matters?  All know that you are "the boss" but that lack of smile or approachability on your face, is it a mask of your vulnerability, showing that you cannot juggle the balance needed between "social pressure of status" and your managerial or leadership competencies?

Matter of reflection...


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