I am Smiling

“Hey kid! Would it kill ya to smile?” said some drunk from the customer side of the bar.

“I am smiling,” I’d quickly reply before putting my head down and getting back to work.

I think my straight face is my biggest weakness at work. My normal resting face is kind of intense looking, and I consider my performance at work a serious matter. My seemingly sour puss can cause me to appear intimidating or unapproachable to those who don’t know me. This is not a becoming feature for a leader.

Even when I was sixteen years old, tending bar at my father’s restaurant, I approached work with an intense seriousness. I’d try to wash the glasses, unload the cases of beer, pour the drinks, and clean the ash trays as fast as I could, like I was in a competition. I thought the customers were picking on me, asking me to smile, but I probably was scaring them. My stern mug has been a problem outside of the workplace too. I remember being twenty-one at a dance club hearing a young lady mumble, “You’re too serious,” as she danced her way to a less intense dancer. At least I’m consistent.

I spend too much time at work to be so damn serious all the time. No one wants an intense boss walking around with the look superman makes when he’s shooting lasers out of his eyes. Appearing too serious can have real consequences for a manager. I was poorly reviewed when I was a new manager for being unapproachable. I’ve come a long way over the years, mostly by focusing on relationships with my coworkers, but it wouldn’t kill me to lighten up and smile a little more, I guess.