Tuesday, October 30, 2007

On smiling

I am not naturally a smiley person. I don't know why. I just am not. It doesn't even reflect how I feel. I may feel really good and upbeat, but I still don't smile. It has been a constant battle for me when I preach. I remember in my first preaching ministry (outside of Wichita, KS), it was such an issue for my wife that I would put smiley faces on every page of my notes. I envisioned me preaching along and then suddenly seeing that and flashing a big toothy smile at some inopportune time and then going back to my serious face.

Yesterday we were at my home church, Lifebridge (formerly First) Christian Church in Longmont, CO. Good service. We attended the traditional service with my parents and then hung around for the music in the contemporary service. Rick Rusaw, the regular preacher, was not there, but Paul Williams (pictured below) was there. I have heard him numerous times before and he is always excellent. He is preaching from Rick's new book on grace at the crossroads of life. And several times Loretta leaned over to me to comment on how much he smiles. And he does. He almost always had a smile on his face. It was appealing. I don't know if he has to work at it or is just a "smiley" person. It did make him look friendly and approachable.

I am aware that smiling affects the way people perceive you. Smiling engenders good feelings toward you. Smiling causes other people to smile. Smiling helps people feel a connection with you. These things are true even if the smile is fake and forced. In her article on public speaking, Penelope Trunk encourages us to smile, "even if the smile is forced, because we are pretty bad at recognizing a fake smile. (This is because when we are forcing a smile, we are still genuinely trying to make a positive connection, so most people will read the nonverbal cue as positive.)

This link leads to a BBC test on whether you can tell where someone's smile is genuine or fake. I took the test and got less than half right (9 ot of 20)

But it is still VERY hard for me. Part of me thinks that it is because I value genuineness incredibly highly. (I didn't say I always live our genuineness, but I do value it highly. It could be because of the difficult life-stage I am in right now. But that may be a cop-out as well.

Any thoughts or suggestions on how to smile more in my/our preaching?


Mark said...

The problem with being "genuine" is that it is very easy to become "genuinely unpleasant" to be around. question: how do we avoid this tendency?

Cal Habig said...

Thanks Mark for the good comment! How very true.

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