When I was just a senior in high school, I had the fortunate opportunity to be employed as a teller at a local bank. While my friends were flipping burgers or waiting tables, I was wrist-deep in cold, hard cash (If only it had been that glamorous!). At the end of my time there, I decided banking wasn’t the right career choice for me, but I was grateful for the interesting work, the customers I was able to meet, and the useful skills I learned. However, my favorite parts of being a bank clerk were the other tellers with whom I worked. Our days were filled with hectic times, but also fun moments of laughter and stories. As the only male teller, I never expected to fit in with the other ladies, but during less than a year there, I created lasting friendships I still cherish today. And in that short time, those ladies managed to teach 17-year-old me a great deal not only about banking, but also customer service, workplace ethics, and life skills in general. I’ve carried those lessons with me since then and use them often. It was at the beginning of the current situation that faces our country and world that one of those lessons came back to me with a flash.
After learning the ropes in the lobby section of the bank, I was moved to the drive-through to assist the other tellers there. Now, many banks have cameras that allow the customers to see the teller working on their transactions, but at the time I was working, we had only a microphone. Early on, another teller told me I needed to “smile with my voice.” I must’ve given her a confused look, because she explained that customers could hear the smile in my voice, despite not being able to see me. I worked on that skill and I’d like to think by the time I was finished at the bank, I had perfected it. It is, of course, a useful skill for telephone conversations, but perhaps not much else outside of the bank drive-through. That is, until recently.
As we go into stores, restaurants, and even banks now, our faces, and our smiles (or frowns), are covered. So how then are we able to convey a friendly attitude, a look of gratitude, or an expression of our beatitude? My bank teller friend would tell us to “smile with our voices.”
I hope you’ll give it a try. Our world desperately needs the smiling faces of which it is now deprived, but we can do our part to insert a bit of joy into the lives of those around us. So, the next time you offer a “thank-you” to the person holding the door for you, or you greet a coworker with a “good morning,” remember to try smiling while you say it. I assure you, those around you will hear the smile in your voice.