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Is a Smile Really Contagious? Know the true index of success By Matteo Rizzato In a 2012 interview, Prof. Giacomo Rizzolatti, one of the world’s leading neuroscientists, explained how feelings are “contagious.” “I’m always delighted when science confirms intuitions, especially when scientific discoveries help us bring about important changes in everyday behavior.” This is the case described in this interview, especially when the professor speaks of love and feelings, in particular, the example of the power of the simple smile. “The response to a question asked politely and with a smile is completely different from the same question asked abruptly. A smile passes from one person to another, like laughter. Some comedians make you laugh just through the way they laugh. A yawn affects not only those who see it, but also those who hear a story in which a yawn is mentioned.” Please note, we are not talking about the classic “false smile”: for our smile to be truly contagious, it must be honest, come from within and from balanced and serene state of mind. People immediately recognize a fake smile! Moods are clearly recognized by others thanks to mirror neurons, which I will explain later. Continuing the interview, the professor says something very true about business: “Unfortunately, bosses don’t realize that having an empathetic relationship with others will make them work better. Instead they believe they get better results through fear, creating the opposite effect.” Have you known people who use fear or sadness as tools of persuasion? Has this made you live well? We can confidently say that good relationships are essential in business, increasing productivity. Science can contribute many ideas on the dynamics of interpersonal relationships. Companies can have many forms of poor communication: think of a Director General who does not get along with the CEO, or simply colleagues who cannot communicate and therefore collaborate as little as possible. How much does this cost the company each year in productivity? In the near future, the market will reward those who have learned to smile sincerely and through their state of mind, spread a balanced, calm and communicative atmosphere, increasing productivity and the quality of service offered. Not to mention improving Personal Excellence essentials presented by HR.com | 06.2014 8


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