Select Page

“Smile and the whole world smiles with you, cry and you cry alone!”

“Smile and the whole world smiles with you, cry and you cry alone!”

Some illustrious mind coined this old English expression. Meanwhile, scientists and anthropologists have concluded that no other species has the ability to smile.

According to Google, smiling denotes pleasure, sociability, happiness, joy, amusement, although frequently it’s also an involuntary expression of anxiety known as a grimace. So, if smiling is positive and natural in humans, why is there so little of it seen in the streets and market places?

Only if you approach someone directly would his face light up in a smile or even a grimace, just to try making you feel welcome especially if you are a ‘customer’. However, as soon as he/she detects hesitation, the same smile almost unnoticeably turns into a grimace as he/she knows you are just browsing.

This also happens in the international, sophisticated business world where professionals are so experienced that they almost immediately turn their attention elsewhere and you are left gaping. These professionals now employ hostesses, pretty girls, even beautiful ladies and charming gents to do the introductory footwork. Smiling faces to impress has become almost inborn; – from grannies talking to their offspring, to do-gooders coaching for charity, to faint-hearted lampoonists coo-cooing and chirping, to pets and wild animals hoping to force rivals into submission.

Also, smiling may teach one discipline, which nowadays is surely missing in so many young people. Many a time a smile or even a sheepish one has the ability to save your situation of having failed in some way or other. An instance that has been with me for many years was when I was about five minutes late for a meeting with a very important and influential big shot. He left me waiting for almost an hour thereby jeopardising my other scheduled appointments for that day. When the door eventually opened for me to enter and meet my client, and trying smiling shyly to explain my lackadaisical lateness, he displayed a definite grimace and gruffly reprimanded me, causing me to sweat, smile and cajole for almost another hour to win him over eventually and secure my position. In the end, he probably thought, agh shame, let me give him a chance and accept him as he’s just ‘the new boy on the block’. That indeed taught me discipline!

Strict discipline in the Euro/American business world is of prime importance especially for us in Africa where laziness and incompetence seem to rule. Of course I’m generalising! Yet, when those very same people come to Africa, these traits of ours and the white-teeth smiling faces, dancing and singing everywhere, often delight them to a high degree ! Possibly because most of them are usually coming here on holiday.

Another consequence that smiling, grimacing and crying have brought about nowadays is noticeable on television. A precept chronic adherents of this medium, consciously or unconsciously, are following is to smile, grimace and talk to such an extravagant extent that the viewer is able to see into their unnaturally wide open mouths almost to the very back of their molars. This is such a grotesque sight that I am often prone to want to switch it off. Unfortunately, these presenters and actors are of course being told and taught by their overseers and instructors that this trait is now accepted as an extra effort to attract attention to be heard and noticed beyond the usual background noise and interruptions. So, this is the DEVELOPMENT of the new digital age !!

So keep on smiling, but don’t overdo it if you still want to be credible and keep the crying for when you are alone!


About The Author

Richard S

Richard S. is a retired business manager. His career of more than 40 years took him from clerk to director of international programme marketing in the television broadcasting sector. During his career he has witnessed several large-scale transformations, first in radio services, then in television programme procurement and TV scheduling and presentation. He also successfully tried his hand at retail business and property development. He is a pre-digital professional but has lately adopted some of these new technologies although he is reserved about their application and functionality. He believes that digital is only in its infancy but that in the future intelligent design age it will still become the only form of public communication. He lives with his wife in Johannesburg, South Africa. He was educated at the University of the Free State and of Natal.