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Smile and Say It!

And use a kind tone of voice.

Posted: March 3, 2008 10:51 a.m.
Updated: May 4, 2008 5:02 a.m.
Smiling has a lot of power. It's always good to smile when you're having your picture taken. It's easy to smile when you are having fun, and it's also good to smile when you have something sensitive or difficult to say to another person. Smiling sends a good message. It sets a tone of ease. It helps open up a conversation. There are times when you may have wanted to discuss something with another person, but you felt it was too difficult to talk about, so you didn't bring it up. You may have removed yourself from the situation to avoid embarrassment, hurt or anger.

Good things can result if we can get past our own hesitancy to speak up. Next time this happens, try saying whatever you need to say with a smile and a kind tone in your voice. Being tactful is using your gentle voice and caring about the other person's feelings. Here are some examples of "smiling when you say it:"

Jealousy sometimes makes us feel weird, and we act grumpy. If your friend got picked for the team and you didn't, you could say, "Colin, I was pretty disappointed when I didn't get picked for the team and you did, so I was acting out - but I'm really glad for you and I hope you have a good game."

Keeping a secret is something that good friends do for each other. Be the buddy that your friends can count on not to blab what they told you in confidence. "Emily, you asked me not to tell anyone your secret - and I promise you that I won't." If someone wants you to reveal a secret, say, "Sandy, I wouldn't tell your secret to anyone if you asked me not to, so please understand that I can't tell you Nick's secret now." There may be a time when you are told some dangerous information as a secret. In this case you may say, "I can't keep a dangerous secret. We should tell an adult."

Kindness to older people says a lot about your heart. Never be shy or afraid to talk with older people, relatives and friends who are in a special home or hospital. It cheers up their day so much to have you go up to them, smile and say something nice. "Hello Great-Grandmother. The flowers you put on your windowsill look pretty. I like poppies, too. My class is planting a flower and vegetable garden in the school's yard next month. I'll bring you a surprise from that garden."

Lying gets you into all sorts of trouble, sooner or later. Remember, always tell the truth. It's the easiest to remember.

And once people know you lie, they will never trust you or believe you again.

"Sometimes I feel like lying, but I always remember that I'll be better off when I tell the truth."

Loss of hair because of any illness makes some people feel very different and self-conscious. Say something to help them feel better. "Jessica, that's a cute looking cap you're wearing - and it's a great color on you," or "My cousin went through the same thing you are, and I know how he felt. You still look good to us. Hey, want to be on our spelling team tomorrow?"

Mispronouncing a name happens. Sometimes a teacher or a new friend calls you by another name by mistake. It's OK to smile and politely say, "Ms. Silva, my name isn't Taylor, it's Tyler."

Messages that you take over the phone can get mixed-up. Even though we try to be correct, sometimes we goof. If you get confused, take your time, and ask for more help. It's better to slow down and have the message repeated. "I want to be sure to get this message right, and I don't think I have everything you said written down. Would you please go over it once again with me? Thanks a lot."

Noises like burping sound un-cool. If you hear that noise, just ignore it and look the other way - no laughing or giving it extra attention. If it's you that made that sound, then quickly apologize and talk about something better. "Excuse me. By the way, did you know that our P.E. coach is taking our class to the high school tennis tournament next month because we did so well in our league?"

Newcomers to your classroom or your neighborhood will welcome a friendly face. Be the one to go up to them first - be a helpful new buddy. If you are the newcomer and no one comes up to you, find one person who looks at you, then smile and say, "Hi. I'm new here. I saw you up in front of the room. Do you want to eat lunch in the cafeteria together today?"

How many smiles do you think you make in a day? Keep that number high. And if you need a few more, remember to "turn that frown upside-down" - and you'll have one more.

Louise Elerding, personal appearance coach, is the author of "You've Got Manners!" - a series of children's books on manners. For information on manners classes in the SCV call 1-800-326-8953. The Web site is


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