We wait in line for drinks for a few minutes, engaging in the same sort of pleasantries she will spend the next hour explaining her dislike for. Russian culture, she says, has a different set of standards for polite behavior. Sofiya is originally from Kazan, a city miles east of Moscow. A promising student who wanted a career, she enrolled in a pre-MBA program in Moscow before becoming one of two students in the program to be awarded a tuition waiver toward an MBA at California State University, East Bay. So she started working as a teller at a Wells Fargo branch in San Francisco.
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Did they really want to know how she was? The deeper problem was that smiling almost constantly was at the core of her duties as a teller. As she smiled at one customer after another, she would wince inwardly at how silly it felt. There was no reason to smile at her clients, she thought, since there was nothing particularly funny or heartwarming about their interactions.
And her face hurt. But there is data on the topic. Maria Arapova, a professor of Russian language and cross-cultural studies at Lomonosov Moscow State University, examined how Russians and Americans smile as part of her Ph. She had been struggling emotionally and wanted to study the cultural concept of suffering, which she saw as being at the core of the Russian soul. But her adviser suggested Arapova might be happier spending several years thinking and writing about smiling instead. In , Arapova sent a questionnaire to university students from Russia, the U.
The first question, whose English-language version contained a charming translation error, read:. You have an eye contact with a stranger in a public place: A smile and then look away B look away C gaze at his eyes, then look away. Ninety percent of Americans, Germans, and U.
C hristina Kotchemidova teaches theory, gender, and intercultural communication at Spring Hill College in Alabama. The modern American smile, she theorizes, rose out of a great emotional shift in the 18th century. Prior to this shift, she believes, the American emotional landscape revolved around negative emotions like sadness and melancholy, which were seen as indicative of compassion and nobleness.
Informed by ideas from pre- and early Reformation European Christianity, both Americans and Europeans saw earthly suffering as noble and necessary for a happy afterlife. Literature, visual art, and theater in this period aimed to provoke sadness, and crying in public was commonplace in Europe. Diderot and Voltaire, Kotchemidova writes, were seen crying repeatedly. The Age of Enlightenment pushed the culture in a different direction. As thinkers and artists embraced reason, they also began to believe that happiness was permissible during our earthly life as well as the afterlife. The culture of sadness began to be supplanted by one of cheerfulness, which in turn influenced a changing class structure.
The emerging middle class took the ability to manage emotions as key to its identity. Business failures and sickness were linked to failures of emotional control, and cheerfulness to prosperity. Eventually, cheerfulness became a prerequisite for employment. Hochschild interviewed dozens of flight attendants and other employees at Delta Airlines, which was then ranked as having the best service among major American airlines it is still near the top.
She found a commodity whose exchange had gone unaccounted for in the usual discourse of commerce.
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The requirement that the flight attendants appear genuinely upbeat was part of what made this emotional labor so taxing. Your smile is your biggest asset. I want you to go out there and use it. Really lay it on. Their planes had a stripe of black paint on their noses to suggest a smile.
A study was even able to place a numerical value on the smile: Students at Bangor University in the U. In early gameplay, the students became familiar with the avatars, learning which would be more likely to produce wins associated with small amounts of money. When students had to choose between a difficult and an easy opponent, they chose the easy opponent when both opponents had the same kind of smile. But they chose the more difficult opponent when its avatar had the more genuine smile. The researchers were able to calculate that their subjects valued a single genuine smile at about a third of a British penny.
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That value would add up quickly and influence your social judgment. They do smile, and a lot. But smiling, for Russians—to paint with a broad brush—is an optional component of a commercial or social exchange and not a requirement of politeness. It means something different to smile—in fact, smiling can be dangerous.
In Kuba Krys, a researcher at the Polish Academy of Sciences, studied the reactions of more than 5, people from 44 cultures to a series of photographs of smiling and unsmiling men and women of different races.
These subjects considered the future to be uncertain, and smiling—a behavior associated with confidence—to be inadvisable. Authentic people are deeply in tune with who they are and what they want.
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Their ability to live their life in harmony with their true selves comes from some clearly discernible habits that any of us can study and incorporate into our repertoire. They help others to be their authentic selves. Their commitment to being authentic gives other people the freedom to live authentically too. They let go of negative people.
Authentic people have too much self-respect to put up with people who treat them badly or have ill will toward them, and they have too much respect for other people to try to change them. Their confidence comes from the fact that they have nothing to hide. Who they appear to be is who they really are. They prefer deep conversations to meaningless chatter. Eleanor Roosevelt nailed this one.
They know all of that stuff is nothing more than cultural trappings, and they choose to talk about things that matter.
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Authentic people, on the other hand, are accountable. They make the best out of any situation.