A Simple Smile
Sales people are trained to smile. They are told countless times that, “a smile can be heard over the phone,” that “smiles are contagious,” and that “a smile sets the tone.” And, though it may sound cliché, it’s still very true. An authentic smile, so simple and subtle, can be very powerful. Strangely, this simple technique that works wonders in the world of sales often isn’t taught in the world of project management.
Project managers are taught to focus on deadlines and deliverables. They’re taught to be Six Sigma Black Belts and master agile development methodologies. They are taught to be super intense, no frills, no fun, laser focused, and armed with Gantt charts and project plans. However, the best project managers know intuitively that the best way to get things done is by being empathetic and understanding. Others learn it over time.
Quite often, we can hear one of our most cheerful project managers answering the phone, “Happy Wednesday James! How are you doing today?” The PM isn't being fake. Or putting on a show. The PM is genuinely and authentically happy. And is a purposely positive person. The PM is also a darn good project manager and simply gets things done.
With that being said, we aren’t advocating project managers to be Yes Men or Yes Women. Having a sunny disposition doesn’t make you a push over. It means you understand that things can be tense and difficult, but you are trying to maintain a positive attitude towards a situation to find a resolution instead of drawing a line in the sand and seeing things as black and white.
Being a purposely-positive person has an amazing effect on projects and clients. Clients can also be stressed. They have deadlines, revenue goals, dependencies, etc. When we’re chatting with clients oftentimes you can see the stress and feel their pain. That’s when a simple smile can be transcendent.
There's even science to back this up.
The act of smiling can cause a dramatic change in our mood that can be perceived by others, and, in turn, causes a change in their mood, as well.
It’s what bonds us as humans. We’re here. We’re in this together. It’ll be ok. Despite all of our daily job and project stresses, we’re still very lucky in the scheme of things. Project managers who do this, naturally get it. And they’re infinitely better at their jobs than those who don’t.
So, I’d like to encourage all of us, not just project managers, not just people who are client facing, but everyone who has to interact with other human beings, to borrow from our business development peers and purposely smile. It will do more than help with project management and client relations. It will make us happier, too. And isn’t that the point?