Will there be enough of Uncle Sam’s overly generous bailout money to trickle down to you and your employees to resolve all of your business and personal financial worries? Will it happen soon enough to save the ship?

Probably not, but you can’t give up hope. You need to reassure all of those around you that you are determined to survive and prosper. Fortunately, one of your biggest assets will never lose its value.

We are talking about your smile and the powerful effects of body language. To fully appreciate the positive power of your confident smile, you need to first consider the negative effect of a worried frown on the boss’s face. That only leads to desperation and despair.

You can provide that “light at the end of the tunnel” for your family and friends, as well as your employees, customers, suppliers, banker and insurers. You don’t even have to worry about “risk vs. reward” because your smile is absolutely free!

Remember the words of that old song, “Let a smile be your umbrella on a rainy, rainy day”? You simply need to keep the edges turned up to win.

If you are wondering how you can keep a smile on your face when everything is going wrong, you just need to recall how you survived each of those tough situations in the past, in your business and personal lives. You know what they say - when the going gets tough, the tough get going!

You should say hello to everyone you see in your office and on your jobsites - -those you know and strangers also. You can ask how they are doing or about their personal life and family. Ask about their hobbies, sports recreation, etc.

They will appreciate your sincere interest.

Do not talk shop and risk breaking your chain of command. You can discuss company business with an employee only when his or her immediate supervisor is present.

Laugh Medicine

But there is a lot more involved with keeping a smile on your face through good times and bad. It’s called “laugh medicine”:
  • “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones,” suggests the Book of Proverbs.

  • Researchers are finding that laughter is truly good medicine. Laughter relieves stress, increases respiratory activity, oxygen exchange and heart rate. It may stimulate the brain to produce endorphines (natural pain killers). It can reduce depression and may increase your lifespan. And you don’t even need a prescription!

  • In all of my foreman and superintendent training seminars, I emphasize the critical importance of wearing a smile. Smiles turn their employees on; their frowns will turn them off.
Employees are definitely more accident-prone when their morale is low. They also are more susceptible to colds and other communicable diseases because their immune systems are not functioning properly.

I explain all that with this simple example:

When you have a good, fun day at home or at work, you sit down and enjoy a full evening dinner. Within two or three hours, you are back in the refrigerator looking for something to munch on. That’s because your body digested that food and turned it into energy, which fueled the immunity that wards off those attacking germs.

When you have a bad day, your evening meal stays as a lump in your stomach. When you go to bed, that lack of digestion in your body is parallel to not having gasoline in your truck to run the engine.

There is no doubt that your employees will get more done when their morale is high. Their day goes faster and they enjoy what they are doing, and the probability of making more money for you and themselves increases.

When your smile does not rub off on one of your employees in your office or on a jobsite, you or his immediate supervisor should ask, privately, if something is wrong and could you possibly help.

But a smile is only a good starter. You can multiply all of this positive health medicine and motivation with fun and laughter. I have been working in this great construction industry for most of my 77 years and have enjoyed every day. Naturally, there were days when things went wrong, but those few incidents did not contaminate all of the good ones.

Our employees loved coming to work to see what kind of jokes, teasing, screw--ups and horseplay (the safe kind) they would participate in and enjoy. This was especially healthful for any employee who had personal problems or worries at home.

Then OSHA came along and outlawed horseplay because of the possibility of someone becoming injured. We always watched for an opportunity to surprise or even scare an employee a little bit just to provide a laugh. No one ever got injured but we certainly had a lot of healthy fun.

Tips On Teasing, Joking

Partly due to my own personal mistakes, but mostly due to what I’ve read and learned about jokes and teasing for fun, I’d like to share these fundamental basics:

1. Never tease or tell jokes about an employee that might embarrass him in front of his peers. That is especially critical with ethnic or racial remarks.

2. The most effective laughter producers are stories about your own personal stupidity, mistakes and screw-ups. Your employees enjoy hearing about you being a human being and can relate these stories to their own situations.

They especially enjoy hearing about your awkward relationship with your spouse, your divorce, dating and dreaming about the opposite sex. Here again, they can relate their own personal situations and laugh with you. However, you must not say anything derogatory or reveal intimate secrets you share with your significant other.

3. You need a repertoire of funny jokes that will make them laugh. In addition to the good ones that you hear, we now get some real bone ticklers in our e-mails. You can send or hand them a copy so they can share it.

More than 30 years ago my wife and I saw the movie “Secret of Santa Victoria,” where Anthony Quinn played the role of Bambolini, the town clown. He was a likeable but awkward screw-up throughout the movie. So every time I boggle anything at home, my wife laughs and says, “Bombolini strikes again.” My employees laughed at and loved hearing all my “Bombolini” stories.

Rarely, but on several occasions, my wife has done something screwy and so, naturally, at those times I call her Mrs. Bombolini. My employees really laughed when I told them about that. A couple have even mentioned it to her and she laughed with them.

You may be wondering how a smile can make you forget about all of the serious concerns that we are facing today - the global economy problems, terrorist threats, our national and local economies, and especially your own personal financial situation.

Maintaining a smile and a positive attitude will not make you forget all of those serious concerns or make them go away. But it will certainly reinforce your determination and ability to win. Your positive influence on all of your employees will definitely benefit them, not only personally but in their work, too. The end result will be a lessening of your business worries.

You can look back at history in the 1920s and ’30s and relate all that’s happening now to realize there is a positive solution for whatever happens. Many lost everything they had, including their life savings, and became destitute during the Great Depression. Companies and banks folded and it looked as though there would not be a recovery. But the determination and downright cheerfulness of the American people was at work and their positive attitude showed up in the smiles on their faces as they told the rest of the world, “We will lick this and we will be fine.”

The bottom line is very basic. How much will it help you and yours if you maintain a positive smile of confidence vs. how much will it hurt if you don’t?