Those of you who are either a physician or a patient probably know that there's a rating system that patients give for doctors to express satisfaction or dissatisfaction with their care. Recently, our hospital distributed a booklet on things we can do as physicians to improve our ratings. In the booklet, there were TWO PAGES dedicated to smiling.
It started out with an experiment. They tell you to look in a mirror and don't smile. Then they say to keep looking in the mirror while smiling. And, I kid you not, they gave instructions on how to smile. I thought that after thirty-something years of life, I would have mastered the art of smiling, but apparently not. (Maybe this should have been a med school course.) The instructions included showing a lot of teeth and gums. To be honest, the smile actually sounded like it could be frightening to some people.
Anyway, in spite of my skepticism, I gave monstro-smile a try the next day. And don't laugh, but I think it made a difference! I felt like when I was smiling, it encouraged patients to smile back, and I also felt like I was being nicer, in trying to be consistent with my smile. I felt like somehow this ridiculous smile helped build rapport in the room. A few patients even commented to me, "You're SO nice!" (Hey! I'm always nice!)
So that's my tip of the day: Smile.
Or not. Whatever.