“Don’t worry; you’ll grow out of it.”

The boy looked back at my smile quizzically, with that, “Did he just encourage me or insult me?” look on his face.

The truth is that it was both, but done so at a time and with a student who I knew might grow from the moment. I continued to give an encouraging smile as he grinned and left.

He’d come after class to ask about something, and then had added some comment that sounded to me a lot like whining. I let loose a line that I save for such occasions.

A caring smile was an integral part of the moment’s lesson. Without it, that student might have left hurt, annoyed, or both.

If you’ve ever spent time with an Alzheimer’s patient, you already know what I’m talking about. They may lose the ability to process the components of a conversation, but they may not have lost the ability to read your face.

A stern look prompts worry. A big smile generates joy. Either shapes the interaction that follows.

When you think about the messages you are about to give as a teacher or a school or team leader, do you also think about the facial expression and tone that will accompany what you have to say?

It’s worth the reflection.

image credit: Smiling woman on Mount Rinjani by Jonas Verstuyft from Unsplash (license)

Bonus: There are loads of cool free things to watch, read, and try in the August 2019 Next Vista newsletter.

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