Smile Classification Systems Can Help You Separate the Good From the Bad

One important aspect of human social etiquette is smiling. Smiling shows other people that you are pleased or that they are welcome. In business, smiling can mean a lot of different things. If you are a manager, your smiling can be welcoming to new employees, customers, or potential clients. Here are some basic ways to say “smile” in a non-oral way.


I grin because… You know what they say, an smile is sometimes the only thing between disaster and success. A well-placed, smiling smile can be the difference between success and failure. (Listening to “Smile at me, I am smiling” by Enya.) In other words, a big, bright, smiling mouth is a powerful tool that can be used to your advantage. (I cannot begin to explain how powerful this statement is, smile!)

There is a three-step Smile Classification System by ethologist William Bates, considered the world’s first smile classification system. According to Bates, if a person smiles broadly with open eyes, with his or her mouth wide open and relaxed, then that person is smiling with confidence. Conversely, if a person smiles with forced or contracted lips, closed eyes, closed mouth or a smile with one or more teeth in a relaxed, but narrowed shape, then the person is likely suffering from a medial condition known as “anxiety”.

Step one of the three-step smile patterns, the “wide-eyed smile”, is seen in about 50% of the general population, and is called a functional smile. Step two, the “smiling mouth” or functional smile is seen in less than 10% of the general population. Step three, the “closed mouth” smile is seen in only about 10% of the general population. This is the most serious of all three smile types.

An individual who smiles with their mouths opened widely, with an air of self-confidence and with full awareness of what others are thinking, will most likely have a “functional smile”. However, an individual who smiles with forced or contracted facial expressions, closed eyes, closed mouth or a smile with one or more missing teeth will most likely display signs of clinical depression. This person’s facial expressions are indicative of an emotional state of low self-esteem, anxiety, or stress. This type of emotional state also affects an individual’s body language, their speech patterns, and their physiology. Therefore, you, as an employer, need to pay attention to these three smile types when screening job applicants, employees, customers and prospects.

Smile Classification systems are a valuable tool for job applicants and job employers. When you display one or more characteristic frown lines or showing signs of depression, you need to be evaluated for suitability for the job. The smile you use, regardless of its actual cosmetic value, can make or break your chances of success. The smile you use should reflect your genuine, bright and happy smile or the one that conveys sadness, anxiety, lack of self-confidence, nervousness, or stress. The smile you use is a key component in the success of your job.

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