As an entrepreneur who started a Brooklyn orthodontic practice, I really believe that success, whether at work or in school, comes from taking action, always learning and dreaming big. But, sometimes, it’s really hard to get there without the right confidence boost or the ability to make the first impression you want. That’s where having a healthy, beautiful smile comes in. I know this first hand because I was self-conscious about how my teeth looked growing up and orthodontic treatment changed my life and outlook. Your smile plays an important role in your self-esteem. When you’re happy with it, you will feel at the top of your game and ready to give it your all to achieve your life and career goals. Not only that, your smile influences how others perceive you, which can be helpful in getting an edge.
Here are some of the ways our smile is important and how having a confident one can help you fulfill your dreams:
- A genuine smile puts others at ease and research suggests it makes you look friendlier and more likeable. Don’t you tend to do business with people you like? Or, what about the hiring process? When you are in a job interview, no matter how stellar your credentials are, if you appear stiff, unfriendly and don’t make a connection with your interviewer, it could hurt your chances of scoring the position. Remember, companies are not just looking for qualified candidates, they are also looking for candidates who will fit in with the rest of the team, add to a positive work environment and, depending on your industry, be able to build rapport with customers and clients.
That is not to say you should smile and joke your way through all of the job interview questions or your entire pitch to a potential client. Going overboard can have the opposite effect and make you seem like you’re not serious or that you’re unqualified. Additionally, study after study has shown people can detect a fake smile and it gives the impression that you are not sincere. So, the bottom line is, smile when it feels natural because a genuine smile will leave a lasting impression.
- In studies when subjects were shown images of non-smiling and smiling people, the individuals who were smiling were evaluated more positively and gave the viewers a warmer feeling. When people like you and view you in a positive light, they also tend to trust you. This can go a long way in helping you achieve your career goals. After all, establishing trust is key to moving up in a company, turning leads into customers and encouraging people to take a risk on you or invest in you.
- The halo effect, a term coined in 1920 by researcher Edward Thorndike, is a phenomenon where we evaluate a person and if we see one attribute or quality that is positive, we then attribute a bunch of other positive qualities to them. It’s a shortcut our brain takes that causes us to extrapolate a lot of information about a person based on one of our perceptions of them. Fair or not, it’s human nature and it goes to show the power of first impressions. One attribute that has been proven to elicit the halo effect is a great smile. So, when you meet someone and their beautiful smile is the first thing you notice, you might subconsciously assume they are also smart, funny, successful and hardworking or whatever other qualities you consider to be positive. Obviously, if you are vying for a position or trying to close a deal, the halo effect is your friend.
- A study of service providers found that the ones who gave customers authentic smiles were perceived as more competent. The smilers were also rated higher for customer satisfaction regardless of task performance. If you’re trying to do business with someone or create an awesome customer experience, smile at them!
- The old saying, “smile and the world smiles with you” is based in fact. Smiling is contagious. We often unconsciously mimic others’ facial expressions, which then triggers a similar emotional state in us that lets us understand the person (empathy) and respond appropriately in social situations. So, smiling at someone typically causes them to unconsciously smile back and can even briefly boost their mood. Beyond that, smiling at people creates good vibes and makes them feel good, which is why the reflexive smile frequently turns into a genuine one. Spreading positivity makes life better and it can help you in terms of career success since a lot of people are drawn to positivity and happiness.
- Scientists at the University of Kansas had subjects do stressful tasks. Some participants were asked to smile during the activities and others were told not to smile. They then measured the participants’ heart rates and also noted their self-reported stress levels during the tasks. The subjects who smiled had lower heart rates and the body’s response to stress was reduced. They also felt less stressed and had a smaller decrease in positive emotions than those who did not smile. There are a few main takeaways from this.
When you feel anxious or stressed about a situation, like an interview or a presentation, it can cause a dip in confidence and impact your performance. Maybe you blank on some interview questions or stumble over words while speaking. When you’re faced with a nerve-wracking challenge, take a moment beforehand and go somewhere quiet – and preferably private – and force yourself to smile for 10 to 15 seconds to get yourself centered and manage your body’s stress response. Another situation where this can be good is when you’re doing tedious but necessary tasks at work. Force a little smile and it may just give you the boost you need to shift your perspective and get it done.
- When you don’t feel confident you can be afraid to leave your comfort zone, take risks or do anything that could put you in a position to fail. However, career success involves taking risks, making mistakes and learning from them, and having the self-esteem to know your worth and go for what you want. As far as how to be more confident, loving your smile can be powerful. When you are happy with how you look, you feel good about yourself and it is easier to put yourself out there and connect with people. Invisalign teamed up with Harris Poll to conduct a survey on the impact of straightening one’s teeth and found that 92% of adults who straightened their teeth said having a great smile was important to their confidence. In fact, 78% said it gave them the confidence to do something they never would have done before they fixed their teeth.
- A study published in the American Journal of Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics took ten individuals in need of orthodontic treatment. They obtained photos of them and digitally altered the photos to correct their teeth and give them the ideal smile. They then showed groups of subjects either the photo with crooked teeth that had not been altered or the altered photo with a perfect smile. The photos of the people with ideal smiles were evaluated as more intelligent and more likely to be hired for a job than the photographs of the same people with non-ideal smiles. It is unfortunate that appearance plays a role in how we’re perceived and whether or not we would be hired for a job but it does. Orthodontic treatment can carry social benefits with it and play a role in career success.
- In another study, Invisalign worked with Kelton to understand first impressions and the judgments people have about crooked teeth. After surveying over 1,000 adults they found almost one-third said the first facial characteristic they notice about someone are their teeth and 24% said it is the feature they remember the most after meeting a person. It was also discovered that Americans perceive people with straight teeth as 45% more likely than people with crooked teeth to land a job when competing with someone with the same experience and skills. When looking at images, the people with straight teeth were also thought to be more successful, as well as wealthier, happier, smarter and healthier. Putting yourself in a position to make an amazing first impression by straightening your teeth can be a thing that sets you apart from the competition.
- A study titled, “Impact of orthodontic treatment on self-esteem and quality of life of adult patients requiring oral rehabilitation” discovered orthodontic treatment caused a substantial boost in self-esteem and quality of life, including psychological benefits for adult patients. The study’s authors concluded, “Since the perception of facial appearance can affect health, social behavior, and happiness of the individual, it is safe to say that people with well-balanced smiles are considered more intelligent and have a greater chance of being employed.” I’d argue it isn’t just the actual appearance of a perfect smile that makes someone seem more employable, smarter or happier but also the confidence they exude because of it.
- Psychologists at the University of Cardiff in Wales found that people who couldn’t frown because they received Botox injections were happier and less anxious than the people who could frown. Other studies have indicated that smiling, even if you’re faking it, tricks your brain into feeling more positive and happy. When you are in good place mentally and feeling upbeat and positive this translates into all areas of your life, including your career. It helps you feel more motivated, energized and ready to tackle your goals.
- Perhaps the biggest thing about your smile and its correlation with success is the fact that when you are self-conscious about your teeth and unhappy with how your smile looks, you waste a lot of precious time and brainpower thinking about it. It prevents you from being truly present in your work and being present and focused is absolutely essential for crushing those short-term and long-term career goals. When your insecurity is no longer holding you back, it gives you the freedom to turn your attention to where it needs to be and just dive into life.
- Last, but not least, is a survey conducted by Impulse Research Corp. for the American Academy of Orthodontics. 75 percent of respondents said they had improvements in their personal relationships and careers that could be attributed to their new smiles. 92 percent even said they would recommend orthodontic treatment to others.
Straightening your teeth enhances your oral health and, in turn, your overall health. Yet, while the functional benefits of orthodontic treatment are crucial and can have a big impact on your life, all of this research shows that you shouldn’t underestimate the power of loving your smile and smiling often either. Smiling, in general, is tied to a better mood, positivity, being able to connect with others, and reducing stress. Having a healthy, beautiful smile is shown to increase your confidence, help you make an amazing first impression and can give you the edge you need to reach your career goals and be successful.
If you’re worried that orthodontic treatment means you’ll have to wear metal braces, I can put your mind at ease. At Fresh Orthodontics, we offer esthetic options like clear braces and Invisalign in Brooklyn that are perfect for adults. A lot of our patients who are professionals tend to go with these under-the-radar solutions. You’ll also have the choice of speeding things up with Propel and finishing treatment up to 50% faster. With the high-tech, attractive treatments available, there has never been a better time to get the stunning smile and confidence you deserve. To find out more, book a free consultation at Fresh Orthodontics today!