Asymmetric smiling

Emotional facial expressions are—according to many psychologists—controlled by the right side of your brain, which means it's the left side of your face that will seem to smile easiest Why the left? Well, the right side of the brain tends to operate the opposite side of the body and vice versa

Take a look in a mirror and try a few facial expressions out . Try faking a smile, too . Often a faked smile is lopsided because one side of the face is able to reproduce an acted smile more readily than the other side

When we fake it, then, it's often quite obvious to other people . However, faked smiles are so commonplace in society that we're happy to find this fakery an acceptable signal of an appropriate state Therefore we're happy to see someone smile when they meet us, even though they don't know us This takes us back to the ape compliant gesture of pulling the lips slightly back from the teeth to create nonfight rapport We expect a fake smile of greeting from receptionists, waiters, salespeople, and even telephone staff who are told to smile when they speak, as a smile can be heard even if it can't be seen

Like apes, though, we have a horror of the overly stretched smile This simian sign of aggression is used constantly in business and on social occasions, often by people who are suffering from smile fatigue Your smile should always look even and relaxed

To learn a good smile you should always begin with the eyes The neural machinery involved in creating a genuine smile is different to that used in replicating or faking a smile .

The orbicularis muscle of the eyes moves subconsciously in a genuine smile while the zygomatic muscle of the side of the mouth can create a smile voluntarily or involuntarily Therefore smiling with the mouth but not the eyes will create what looks like a mirthless or joyless smile

When you study your face in the mirror, cover the lower half with your hand or some paper and try to create a smile using your eyes alone Soften the eyes as though you've seen a friend Then imagine you're about to share a joke with that friend Once you've perfected the eye smile you can go on to work on the mouth

Start with a closed-lip smile then widen it to a smile that shows upper and lower teeth (although not all of them!). Does your smile look open and genuine or does it look as though someone's shouted "Say cheese"? Think of something funny if you're struggling . Keep working on your smile until it looks and feels genuine Remember all the top movie stars like Tom Cruise and Julia Roberts who have perfected their screen smile to the point where it has made them iconic

Here are some key things to remember: I Don't hold your teeth edge-to-edge as it suggests stress or tension This is known as the stretched social smile or the rictus, for obvious reasons I Avoid opening your mouth unless executing a natural laugh — otherwise it looks false

I Never produce what is known as the flash smile or the lightning smile This is the name for smiles that appear from nowhere and disappear just as suddenly . A genuine smile might appear suddenly but would hang around for longer

I Also avoid the pinging smile. These are used to devastating effect by celebs but look phony when employed in real life This is where your face lights up like a hundred-watt bulb but for no obvious reason except to impress I Avoid using what appears to be a choreographed smile that bears no relation to the words you're speaking. Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher used this type of smile a lot, smiling on non-smiley words like "unemployment" or throwing a smile in when she was trying to sound cross

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