How to Make Someone Smile & Flip Their Mood

While we can’t control the behavior of others, we still have a higher level of influence than we may realize.

Did you know you have the power to shift someone’s mood? You can take someone’s day from bad to good, or from good to great.

Now, I know we’ve all faced grouches: at work, in the line at the grocery store, maybe even in our own home. There are some people who seem to perpetually exist in a state of negativity. I’m sure we all know a few “downers.” Maybe we’re even guilty of the occasional stinking thinking (aka negative self-talk) ourselves.

Yet, in any given situation we’re able to create a shift—we can literally adjust someone’s attitude. So, are you ready to start flipping?

The Anatomy of a Bad Mood

As humans, we experience a variety of emotions. One of the biggest truths we should embrace when it comes to these emotions is there are no “bad” or “wrong” emotions. If you feel fear, hurt, sadness, anger or even joy, there’s nothing wrong about it.

Emotions are a beautiful part of our humanity. Formed in our amygdala—the very center of the limbic system and oldest portion of our brain–our emotions are powerful. In fact, they’re so powerful it’s very difficult to even exist without our emotions.

Take for example studies of people with traumatic brain injury or tumors in this area of their brain. With the inability to feel emotions they struggle to make even the most basic choices such as what to eat, what to wear, or what to do next. You see, so many of our actions are fueled by emotions, right down to our meal choices. At the heart of every decision are our feelings.

Feelings are powerful. They shouldn’t be dismissed or ignored but rather embraced and explored.

Where our feelings get us into trouble is when we assign them as personality traits, rather than feelings. If you catch yourself saying, “I’m shy,” or “I’m aggressive,” “neurotic,” or “fearful,” these emotions are programmed into our self-image.

Dr. Phillip Zimbardo runs the Shyness Clinic at Stanford University, and he finds that many shy people assume they were born this way, have always been this way and will always be this way. Yet, Dr. Zimbardo has trained many people to overcome shyness, demonstrating that this “disorder” is simply a behavioral pattern representing a lack of skills. In other words, shy people need to practice the social skills that will break them free of their habitual thinking. Their programming loses its power in the face of actions that demonstrate it to be a fiction.
Perhaps the most instructive of all is the research regarding our brain chemistry, showing that we seek the neurochemical states associated with different moods. Let’s say we believe ourselves to be cranky. We’re convinced we were born that way, and our behavior for the last thirty-five years confirms it because we’ve been constantly cranky. In reality, we’re addicted to the waves of peptides that flood our system when we’re in a cranky mood and label ourselves as “cranky.” Our neural network remembers the chemical high we felt when we scowled at our coworkers, snapped at our kids, or stewed in dissatisfaction. We become habituated to this cranky state, and we intentionally think thoughts that evoke it, triggering that neurochemical wash. It becomes essentially, a habit of the mind.

In other words, there’s no such thing as someone who’s just a “grouch.” We all have the ability to break out of our pattern of negative thinking and our self-defeating mentality. We can choose to boost positive thoughts and feelings that result from our moods.

How to Up-Regulate Your Mood

First of all, you won’t experience a paradigm shift overnight. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the concept of a paradigm shift, a paradigm refers to a pattern or accepted perspective. In this case, shifting your pattern or model requires a commitment to change and growth. It won’t happen overnight—you see, those habits are strong—but it will happen.

In the meantime, we all have the ability to up-regulate or down-regulate our mood. Watch a funny cat video on YouTube or read a joke from a friend. What happens? You laugh. You feel instantly a little lighter and more upbeat. Whenever we laugh we’ve up-regulated.

Speakers and presenters often practice standing in a power-stance with hands on hips. They may look in the mirror with their best “go get ‘em” face, or even repeat a mantra. This isn’t for theatrics. It’s because this shifts in our bodies, movements and facial expressions send a message to our brain. We get a burst of feel-good neurochemicals. When we take a power stance, we’re up-regulating.

On the flip-side, consider the stereotypical brooding teen. Maybe he’s wearing black, listening to sad music and reading emotional poetry. He may carry himself slumped with poor posture, backpack slung over one shoulder and eyes downcast. His actions, posture and presentation are down-regulating his mood.

While we often can’t change circumstances or situations that may cause us to feel fear, sadness, anger and hurt, we CAN consciously surround ourselves with uplifting reminders and cues to up-regulate. When we’re feeling a little frightened, adopt a power stance. When we start to feel sad and down, take a five-minute happiness break. Listen to a song, watch a funny video. Get yourself to smile and maybe even close your office door for a dance break. It sounds a little different, but I guarantee you’ll feel lifted and more blissful when you’re finished.

How to Flip Someone’s Mood

Now, the next time a cashier is short with you at the grocery store, you might not want to challenge her to a dance off (although, you certainly could). One of the easiest ways to flip someone’s mood is to simply pay them a sincere compliment.

Truth is one of the most powerful tools in our arsenal. When we interact with someone in a genuine, heartfelt manner, we’re telling them we see them. We see who they are, we notice them and appreciate them. A universal yearning is to be seen and appreciated.

Simply taking the time to compliment someone instantly shifts your dynamic. The compliment doesn’t need to be deep, but it should be sincere and heartfelt. Maybe you notice an item of clothing they’re wearing. Perhaps they served your food quickly or waited and held the elevator for you. Instead of simply saying thank you, say, “I am so impressed by your thoughtfulness in holding the door.”

When we offer a sincere compliment, include a smile. When someone smiles, we instantly mirror their expression. It’s an instinct we’ve had since infanthood. What do babies do when you smile at them? They smile back! They might not know why you’re smiling or understand the joke, but they’ll reflect your joy (and you’ll reflect theirs in a ripple effect).

So, are you ready to go out and spread more happiness in the world? Are you ready to flip your next bad mood, adopt a power-stance and compliment everyone you meet? Set a goal to see how many people you can “flip” in a day. Your personal power and circle of influence may surprise you!

Ready to learn more about engaging and connecting with others? Join us for an upcoming network event. We’re also proud to offer many of our great courses online. Download them now at a special introductory price. Learn more about living your best life!

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The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Foundation performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash.

8 Steps to Tap into Your Personal Power

From the top Fortune 500 CEO, to the part-time intern, everyone in an office has a circle of influence.

A woman works on her laptop: 8 steps to tap into your personal power.

We may feel our ideas are dismissed or not valued. Maybe our boss doesn’t seem to listen when we offer suggestions. Perhaps you think if you wait for a promotion, hoping your ship comes in, you’ll find your voice.

So, what do you do? You go along with the status quo. You exist but you’re not really thriving.

I’m here to tell you—putting your head down and refusing to rock the boat is no way to get ahead.

You have profound influence. More than you may even realize. You don’t need to be the smartest guy in the boardroom or even the hardest working. You need to be the one who’s not afraid to tap into your personal power and exert your influence.


Where Does Influence Come From?

Our ability to influence those around us is directly tied to our emotional intelligence. If we pick up on social cues, understand what people need—not on a surface level, but on an emotional level—we will discover we have an incredible ability to influence those around us. More than we even realize.

So, how do you tap into that influence? What steps should you take if you want to stand out (whether you’re in the mailroom or the corner office)?

1. Learn to Ask for What You Need

If you want to get more out of those around you, learn to ask! Many of us tiptoe around issues and hem-and-haw our way toward requests. There’s a scene in the movie Office Space, where an employee is fired but doesn’t realize it. He keeps coming into work because he’s too indirect to ask where his paycheck is or ask about the status of his job.

While this scene is farcical, it’s not far off for some of us. We often avoid asking for feedback and direction because we fear we’ll appear weak, incompetent, or worse—get an answer we don’t want to hear about our job status. Instead, speak up and ask for the time, supplies, information, and other items you need to be successful. Most importantly, ask for support and feedback.

2. Take Responsibility

When you make a mistake, step up to the plate and take responsibility. We all screw up. It’s part of learning. Celebrate your mistakes and missteps. Mistakes don’t mean incompetence—they mean we’re taking risks!

At the same time, if you want to get ahead, take responsibility for meetings. When you’re in a space, make it your own. We’ve all been in situations where everyone stood around and waited for someone else to jump in and take the reins. Don’t be afraid to be the leader in any situation.

3. Align Your Vision

Great leaders have vision. They’re often proud to share that vision with others. BUT, great leaders also know that people respond best when they’re invested. That’s why they listen to the visions of those around them as well. They don’t simply dictate what needs to be done. They listen to ideas and find a way to get everyone on the same page.

While having your own vision is a powerful step to success, being able to lay that vision over the top of another’s and find congruencies is even more critical. If you find connections and common ground, you aren’t simply persuading others, you’re creating invested allies.

4. Study Personalities (and How to Find Balance)

We all possess different personality traits. While there are many tools to assess these traits, the research-based C.A.R.E. profile helps us understand the engagement strategies of various types. Are you a Cooperator, Analyzer, Regulator, or Energizer? Most of us lean toward one distinct personality trait in our interactions.

Understanding your own personality profile will help you engage with others in a clear and mutually beneficial way. If you’re an Energizer, your boisterous enthusiasm might intimidate a stalwart Analyzer who carefully plots out their next move and response. Knowing which personalities work best together will help you create and build a team that plays on everyone’s strengths.

5. Stay Away from Stinking Thinking

Stinking thinking is when we veer toward negativity. We may think, “this is so unfair,” or “why does this always happen to me?” We may shift the blame, make excuses, or pass the buck on to someone else. Stinking thinking leads us toward blame, shame, and justification—traits of victimhood.

Instead of putting ourselves in the position of victim, work toward the position of leader. Leaders don’t cave to the drama triangle with victims, rescuers, and bullies. Leaders don’t get bogged down with negativity and naysaying. They deal with situations and move forward.

6. Don’t Shy Away from Conflict

How many of us think confrontation is something that should be avoided? Depending on how you were raised, you may view confrontation as negative and even frightening. Conflict and confrontation are powerful means to extracting what you want in a situation. Many employees sit there holding the answers, while the walls burn down around them because they’re avoiding conflict and were afraid to speak up.

You see, honest, responsible conflict is a communication tool. No one is going to be on the same page all the time. We each want differently. We aim for different outcomes and hold different visions. Conflict is a natural, healthy part of growth. If you’re avoiding conflict and holding back on confrontation, you’re not being authentic. Leaders are honest about what they want and aren’t afraid to speak up when they disagree.

7. Lead Where You Are

Leaders lead wherever they are. If it’s a volunteer position. If you’re sitting on a board or you’re deciding what movie to see with friends, leaders take the lead. Not every leadership position will come with the title of manager or supervisor. That doesn’t mean you aren’t a leader.

Remember, leading is not dictating. A leader doesn’t just boss everyone around. They engage in productive conversation (and even conflict) to achieve a desired outcome. Leaders listen to others. They empathize. They work to align a vision. A great leader leads from their part-time barista gig or their role as CEO.

8. Take Pride in Yourself

Leaders stand out because they value themselves. They care for themselves because they understand their worth. Strong leaders possess a growth mindset. They invest in education. They extract the lessons from mistakes and view every challenge as an opportunity for learning.

You’ve heard the saying, dress for the job you want not the job you have? By taking time and pride in yourself, you’ll feel more confident and professional. It’s not about looking good, it’s about valuing yourself and caring about yourself enough to know you’re worth the effort.

If you want to get ahead at the office, hone your leadership skills. Don’t wait for a promotion or sit around wishing for your ship to come in. Go out and ask for what you want!

For more ways to increase your leadership skills, please visit our new course store online! We’re offering some great deals on our coursework and recordings—available to download for the first time ever! We also invite you to join us in person for a networking event, where you’ll meet great allies who are working toward similar goals!

The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

FOMO? Don’t Miss Out:
Ask for What You Need

The term “FOMO” was officially coined in the Oxford English dictionary in 2013 to mean “fear of missing out.”

Learning to ask for what you need will prevent FOMO (the Fear of Missing Out) from consuming your life.

However, the concept of FOMO has unofficially been around much longer.

This phenomenon is largely attributed to social media, but feeling left out, rejected or lonely is an experience dating back as far as humanity. To our ancestors, inclusion meant protection and survival. When the wolves were literally at the door, being part of a group was a matter of life and death. Not to mention the need to partner with others to perpetuate our species.

But beyond survival, we want to feel included for many reasons. We are social creatures and it’s part of our fabric to belong with others. No man is an island.

So, when we see our friends and family having fun without us, its natural we feel a little sense of being left out. Sometimes it’s a twinge and sometimes it can lead to feelings that are even more deeply unsatisfying. In fact, FOMO from social media is now linked to a myriad of issues from lowered self-esteem to feelings of sadness and anxiety.

If we’re so afraid of being left out, why do so many of us still hold back when it comes to being included? How can we battle FOMO and get what we really want?

FOMO Indicates a Deeper Dissatisfaction

At its core, FOMO isn’t really about a missing invitation to the party or wishing you had your friend’s cute haircut. FOMO is actually tied to a deeper dissatisfaction with our own lives. We may scoff and think, “No, not I!” But in truth, if we’re comparing ourselves to others we’re coming from a scarcity mentality.

The world is abundant. There is plenty of satisfaction out there for all of us! If we’re embracing a growth mentality and working toward bringing in more of what we need into our lives, we may realize we each need something different. When we forget the world is abundant and there’s enough to go around, we feel jealous and insecure.

You see, when we’re not on a transformational path, we are nagged by the feeling that we should be doing something more, that we’re missing out on things. We have a vague sense of lost opportunities. This is what the existential philosophers call “ontological guilt,” and we try to drive it out of our conscious mind through soft addictions: watching television, gossiping, texting, shopping and a hundred other things that distract us from the nagging voice in our head telling us we should be doing more.


We Engage Our Soft Addictions

So, we feel we need more in our lives and worry we’re unfulfilled. But we’re avoiding that persistent fear by engaging our soft addictions. What’s the biggest buzz today when it comes to soft addictions? Social media!

From our free time to our political climate, social media has taken over and vastly changed the way we interact, socialize, and spend our time. Even a former Facebook executive recently stated he wouldn’t allow his children to spend time on social media because he felt it was damaging.

Now, not to berate social media’s value. As a tool for staying in contact with friends and family and setting up “IRL” (that’s ‘in real life’) meetings and events, Facebook and other social media tools are great. They are a fun platform for sharing with others.

Social media becomes damaging when we use it as a substitute for those important face-to-face interactions: when we use our phones to “phub” (phone snub) others at the dinner table or during conversation; or, when we become obsessed with comparison and “checking up” on what we’re missing out on.

When FOMO comes into play, it indicates your social media use might have veered into soft addiction territory. (Take our soft addictions quiz to see if you’re over-indulging.)

We Don’t Ask for What We Need

So, how do we battle FOMO? How do we get what we need in our lives so we stop that twinge of jealousy and fear we’re missing out?

The answer is simple—we need to learn to ask.

Asking isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Many of us have been raised with the idea to be “strong” we need to be independent. We may view relying on others as an indication of weakness.

In reality, the opposite is true. Enlisting the help and attention of others is a way we expand our abilities and power. We achieve more when we understand we need to reach out and engage with those around us.

At the core of asking is yearning. When we yearn for something, it’s deeper than just a “want.” Yearning indicates a longing from our heart and soul. We may yearn to feel included, acknowledged, loved. We may yearn to feel valued.

Everyone yearns. When we feel dissatisfied and left out, it’s often an indication those yearnings aren’t being met.

Asking for what you yearn for is a little frightening at first. It’s hard to ask someone to love you or value you. It might even sound laughable at first. “Love me?”

But asking for what we need is a skill we can and should build. It’s easier to start by practicing with small, low-stakes asks. What happens if you ask someone for the time? To hold the door? To help you carry a box? To pass the salt?

The next time you catch yourself struggling, reaching, or going out of your way in the name of independence, consider asking. Then work up to the larger and more important asks. Request the attention of your coworkers and boss. Ask for your spouse to help you with housework or to take you out on a date. Ask to meet with friends for coffee or brunch (rather than scrolling through their Facebook feed).

As you stop hiding behind your soft addictions and get more practice asking, you’ll feel amazed at the engagement and connection you’ll experience. You see, sometimes we don’t realize while we’re feeling FOMO, so is everyone else. We’re all longing to connect with each other. We all have yearnings we’re hoping to fulfill.

So, the next time you catch yourself comparing your life to the lives you see in your newsfeed, take a step back. Ask yourself what you’re really yearning for and how you can ask for what you need!

For more ways to get what you want out of life, please visit our new downloadable coursework! We’ve packaged many of our popular courses in an easy format, ready for your own self-study. They’re at a special introductory price, so don’t miss this offer. We’re also hosting several networking events coming up. Please visit our events page for more details.

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The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Foundation performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Photo by Dani Vivanco on Unsplash.