Professionalism is the most fucked up word in existence. ‘We are professional!’ was pitched to me when I was joining a department (sort of like a frat which works for the cultural fest) in freshmen year at BITS Pilani – Yuck! Professionalism is a word which basically tells people to escape logic because there is a better, more rule based approach to doing well in a workplace. For instance, in most cultures you’re expected to be solemn in a business meeting. Or, be super revering to a professor in a college in India, whether you know him or not. Or follow certain protocol in dealing with a client because it precludes you from thinking what would actually be valid in a situation.
I don’t believe all this really helps. It just creates emotionally repressed people in the working world and it takes them away from being quick on their feet, harms their natural creativity. It makes them smile less. It makes them ‘pretend’ that they’re all solemn and serious at work. In some settings these guys pretend to look all serious and pensive so that they look like they’re always calculating in their heads and are really smart. Young men refraining from being all gay around other men to seem more credible in their macho-ness. Doesn’t help them if you ask me. A true alpha male is a happy alpha male!
Well, this whole anti-jolly thing has created a huge problem – moving on from the professional world to the personal setting. Entrepreneurs not being bubbly and smiley with investors because they fear looking facetious. Dads not laughing with their kids because they’re concerned they’ll look frivolous. Working young people being all professional and serious with their friends to show that they’re totally absorbed in their work. I’ve worked on group projects in university where a group member who seems over happy and is given less work because they think he’s not responsible enough, given his behavior. I may not be describing this problem super accurately- but I’m sure you guys have experienced this, haven’t you? It really bothers me.
The whole thing is – this be solemn and anti-smile attitude is just a pretense to show that we’re psychologically dressed well for professional settings. But I’m not sure if this ever helps with results. Things will move on whether you look the part for it or now. The funeral will happen whether or not you’re dressed in black. And trust me, nobody cares what you wore when there’s a person dead! Professionalism focused solemn facedness (yes, I just coined that term) is just swooning to hierarchy (don’t let my boss think I’m happy!). Reminds me the British Raj (Don’t laugh in front of the British Officer or we’ll get whacked). To come to think of it, this is a product of imperialism.
My whole idea is – it’s making people miserable! They’re not able to express themselves emotionally. So like always, I propose a cure. It’s pretty cliché but it’s an amazing start. Smile. All the fucking time. Smile like an animated monkey in a Disney movie. Smile in the board meeting of your fortune 500 company. Smile while pitching to sharks in the shark tank. Smile when you spank your baby’s bum. Smile when you ask that girl to marry you. Smile when you’re making music with your band.
To come to think of it, a publicly displayed smile or a laugh is essentially both a comfort zone crusher as well as an ice breaker. It helps one tackle situations head on and you’re not half assing social situations in life. You’re not scared of warming up to someone, and then not getting a pleasant expression or greeting in return. If you have the happy smiley attitude, it basically says you’re as brave as Aslan. You essentially don’t give a fuck! (Which is awesome! Read Mark Manson’s post ‘The subtle art of not giving a fuck’). Like I said, you’re not scared of not getting a pleasant response, but in fact you’re almost always getting a smile in return for a smile. This is because you caress egos by saying ‘Hey, here’s a smile. You’re worth smiling at!’ You make others feel good about themselves, which is not really a bad thing.
Moreover, it’s true that smiles really do help you get things in life. Just ask a cute girl who’s got hundreds of free drinks at bars because she smiled at some guys. Ask that criminal who got exonerated in court because he had a beautiful innocent smile. Ask that entrepreneur who got $5 million in Angel Investing because he smiled with sincerity at his potential investors. Ask that guy who had a bad day which turned good because his beautiful girlfriend greeted him with a million dollar smile.
Let me tell you – it’s so much better to meet a happy smiling person than a serious intellectual. If I were an emotional, whimsical millionaire (many of them are!), I’d give my money to a smiling person with a shit start-up to a serious intellectual with a great one – just because I want the genes of the happy person to be carried on in this world. I want a happier world. So be happy kids, and screw those solemn faced pseudo driven shits!