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How to Display a Confident Smile

Updated on May 26, 2013
A true smile is universal. :*)
A true smile is universal. :*) | Source

Confidence can be fickle – one day you have it, the next day… not so much. But if you need to appear confident regularly, wonder no more! Here’s how to at least look assured by showing the world your smile, even if you feel like grimacing instead.

If you’re not born with lots of confidence, exuding it can still be easy with a little bit of acting. Remember the song, “Whistle a Happy Tune”? It directs you to whistle something fun when you’re feeling frightened. Well, the same thing works for looking confident! Displaying a self-confident smile (at your place of employment or anywhere else, for that matter) will ensure that people take you seriously, and you are more likely to get what you want.

How many times do you smile per day?

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Show Us Your Teeth

Smiling without showing your teeth often ends up looking somewhat creepy instead of confident, and you do not want to appear unpleasant or look strange. If you are not pleased with the way your teeth look, I beseech you to get over that. Don’t let a crooked or chipped tooth stop you from achieving your goals! You do not need flawless teeth to give the world a confident smile. There are plenty of stars with large, crooked, or otherwise “imperfect” teeth who you never see looking less than self-assured. For example, Madonna has large teeth with a gap in front. But has that stopped her at all during her 30-plus year career?

Just keep your teeth clean, your gums flossed, and your mouth in good shape. Regular check-ups, cleanings, and the occasional home-whitening system will help keep your mouth looking good!

The author's eye while smiling a fake smile
The author's eye while smiling a fake smile | Source
The author's eye while smiling a real smile. Notice the little lines at the outside corner, and the way her eye becomes a little squinty? Now that's a confident, true smile.
The author's eye while smiling a real smile. Notice the little lines at the outside corner, and the way her eye becomes a little squinty? Now that's a confident, true smile. | Source

Let Your Smile Reach Your Eyes

Find something to enjoy in the moment, since people can easily tell the different between a real smile and one that is fake. A true smile reaches all the way to your eyes, where the corners then crinkle (this is the orbicularis oculi muscle involuntarily contracting) and you look like a person instead of a robot. Fake smiles are controlled by a different neural pathway and come directly from the head, not the heart!

Ever since my sister and I were children, my family has called these crosses between a smile and a grimace “sniles”. You’ve seen plenty of sniles in your life, and you’ve probably made some yourself. Perhaps when your drunk coworker tried to dance with you at a holiday party and was leaning in far too closely for comfort?

Smiling vs. Sniling

Smiling
Sniling
A smile says you are enjoying yourself.
A snile says you would like to be anywhere other than here.
A smile tells others that you are approachable.
A snile tells others that you have no interest in what they have to say.
A smile says “join me!”
A snile says “save me!”
Basically, a snile makes it clear that you are uncomfortable.
The author, "sniling"
The author, "sniling" | Source

Think About Something Pleasant

If you have trouble making a natural smile, think about something pleasant or something that always makes you laugh. For me, it’s my niece and nephew. For you, it might be a vacation or a picture of a shirtless Michael Fassbender.

(Oh, who am I kidding? For me it’s also a picture of a shirtless Michael Fassbender... that and Grumpy Cat.)

Accoutrements 11761 Yodelling Pickle
Accoutrements 11761 Yodelling Pickle

What's *not* funny about a yodeling pickle?

 
The author, smiling
The author, smiling | Source

Let Positive Body Language Reinforce that Smile

To that end:

  • Part your teeth slightly (so you do not look like you are clenching your jaw)
  • Widen your eyes a little (so you look alert without looking manic)
  • Keep your shoulders back (no hunching! You are trying to look confident, not stay hidden. Also, bringing your shoulders back naturally forces you to exercise better posture.)
  • Maintain eye contact with the person at whom you are smiling (for maximum punch).

Like teenage girls polishing their “flirty look” and teenage boys rehearsing multiple pectoral flexes, go ahead and practice in the mirror until a confident smile feels natural.

The author, looking like she's having a good time
The author, looking like she's having a good time | Source

Look Like You Are Having a Good Time

Studies have shown that by showing you are enjoying yourself (even if you are simply acting) you will not only lighten your own mood, but the mood of the people around you.

It’s called the “halo” effect, and research has shown that it will cause you to not only feel more enthusiastic and motivated, but you will also appear more cheerful and even younger to others! (And given a choice, who among us wouldn't want to be perceived as younger?)

This can further increase your personal motivation and you will appear more attractive and therefore confident to others.

Sources/Suggested Reading

Did you know that not only is smiling contagious, but it also relieves stress? It’s a win/win situation! For articles about research regarding smiling and its effects on oneself and others, why not read these:

  • http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cutting-edge-leadership/201206/there-s-magic-in-your-smile
  • http://www.today.com/id/45196801/site/todayshow/ns/today-today_health/t/smile-youll-look-younger-study-suggests/#.US0UbKKG0xo

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    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks, lightmotifs! :^)

      Oh Vinaya, me too! Those fake smile are awful and when they are pasted onto the faces of celebrities or others in the spotlight it makes a real smile look strange. :^(

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

      I hate plastic smile, the smile we see on the Runway models, actors and celebrities.

    • lightmotifs profile image

      lightmotifs 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Great article and pics! :)