Can ‘not smiling’ interfere with securing a job?

I woke up this morning thinking about a young man whom I met this week and whose smile left a smile in my heart. I was taken aback because three years ago when I first met him, his face was always so serious that I found it very difficult to relax around him. He was a very qualified individual who secured many interviews but had difficulties in securing a job.

In a nutshell, three years ago he was struggling in adapting to his new environment and also with learning English as a second language. Automatically, it created a high level of stress as he tried to focus on interpreting what was being said to him. This deep focus caused him to lose his smile during his first interactions with anyone at all. His interviewers found him to be ‘too serious’ and ‘lacked interpersonal skills’. As difficult as this may sound, first impressions are very important during interviews and unfortunately employers don’t have the time to analyze why you may have lost your smile.

Three years later, it is so much easier for him to smile freely because the language flows much easier and he is now more comfortable with his environment. He has also been able to secure permanent employment and is now creating a plan for career growth. His interpersonal skills are much more visible now and he creates a great first impression.

Your facial expression, dress and body language are all interconnected.

So, what is it about smiling that connects us with others? Here are two quotes to think about:

“A warm smile is the universal language of kindness.” William Arthur Ward

“A smile is the universal welcome.” Max Eastman

Personally, I love being around people who smile, laugh and bring a positive aura into my space. Research proves that smiling and laughing create physiological changes in our bodies, even when we are not aware of it.

There are several huge benefits to smiling and laughing:

  1. The muscles in our faces relax and makes us look more approachable. It invites others into our presence. Employers and coworkers find that people who smile create a happier work environment. Even at home and with friends, our smiles and laughter enhances our communication.
  2. Endorphins are released into our bodies. Endorphins are happy hormones which has several benefits of lowering our blood pressure and reducing production of cortisol which is a stress hormone.
  3. When smiles break into laughter, it expands our lungs which brings more oxygen into our bodies. This gives the same feeling as though you have exercised!

My tip for this post: Practice smiling. If it does not come naturally to you, fake it until it happens automatically. Find things to smile about and hang around people who inspire smiles and laughter.




Can words of affirmation give you the confidence to secure a job, improve your relationship and become more empowered to face challenges?


“As an Internationally Trained Professional, I faced (for two years) the barriers/challenges that most immigrants face such as lack of Canadian experience, lack of credential assessment, lack of labour market information and the worst – lack of a job. The overwhelming weight of these “lacks” on my back crippled my momentum and obscured my vocational vision. Magdalene’s sterling ability to coach, inspire and empower coupled with her expertise in the field of career development, self-assessment and transitional management led me to develop a compelling value proposition, networking strategy and job search approach which gave me access to employment commensurate with my skills and expertise within one month”  E. Lawel Natufe

This testimonial came up this morning while I was looking for something else through my files.  About two years ago, Lawel expressed his gratitude to me at his farewell party at work.  He said, “What Magdalene  did for me was to affirm me as a person who had what it takes to re-build my career.” He was a young man whom I met about six years ago, who had been unemployed for about two years, completely frustrated and had lost confidence in himself. Looking back at my experience working with him one of my strategies as an employment counselor back then was to re-build his self-confidence.  I saw huge potential in him and believed in his abilities to get back on his feet.  I can truly say that words of affirmation were instrumental in helping him to overcome the obstacles while we also applied some strategies such as mentorship and re-branding his resume and his approach to the job market.  Today, he is a well established professional and an entrepreneur  who is contributing his professional skills to the Canadian economy and internationally. Not only that, he is living his vocation as a minister and contributing to positive changes in the lives of others.

What is it about words of affirmation that inspires and grounds us?

When we speak kindly to others and affirm their superior qualities we give them confidence to face life, regardless of what circumstances they encounter.  More importantly, I have discovered that if words of affirmation are backed up by pure and good intention for the other person, the two become  powerful forces to help move a person forward very quickly.  I can write an inexhaustible list of people who have affirmed me and whom I have affirmed and I can see the difference we have made in each others lives.  One such example is an old man whom I met when I was about 10 years old, who said to me, “You speak English so well, you will go far in your life.” I often think of him when I blog.

You can never forget a person who express sincerity and confidence in you, especially in your darkest moments.

You can also never forget a person who speaks words to diminish your character or belittle you.

A friend has repeatedly  told me, “We must be careful about how we speak to each other. It even determines the level of intimacy which is shared between a couple.  A man or woman who feels ‘small and insignificant’ to his/her partner, cannot perform at an optimal level in the relationship.  It leaves a gap between the couple which can easily be filled by someone else or some other activity.”

A young woman told me that she was always called “ugly” by her parents and grew up to believe that she is an ugly person even when she has grown up to be a strikingly beautiful woman.

How do you affirm those around you?

Here are a few statements you can use to affirm yourself and others.  As you say them, make them even more powerful by adding  good intentions and sincerity as well as believing in each statement completely.

To affirm yourself:

  • I love myself.
  • I trust myself.
  • I believe in my ability to excel.
  • I am beautiful.
  • I can accomplish this task.
  • I have the courage to make …. decisions
  • I am intelligent and creative.  I can find solutions to my challenges.

To affirm others:

  • You are wonderful.
  • I like it when you do…..
  • You make me feel very special when you….
  • You add so much joy and peace to my life…
  • You are an incredible person.
  • Thank you for always being there for me.
  • I love you unconditionally.
  • You did a difficult job well.
  • I appreciate your sincerity.
  • Thank you for looking after me.
  • Thinking of you makes me smile.
  • You are doing a great job.  Don’t give up!
  • Thank you for listening.
  • You look great!
  • I appreciate it when you do…..
  • I admire your courage to face your challenges…

TuneIn today to the absolutely phenomenal person you are!  StepUp and affirm yourself.  Believe in your limitless potential to add goodness and great value to your life.  StepUp even more to affirm those in your life – let them know how much you care and trust in their ability to rise!












He has held 31 different jobs – a few tips on embracing life’s unexpected journeys…

“If I can put a smile on two people’s face each day, I will give back to my parents what they did for me.” This is the philosophy which Kyle Wannermaker lives by and which many of us in our neighbourhood have experienced with him. A single dad of three daughters for a good part of his life, although he is now happily married, he has faced several challenges in his life but his upbeat and positive attitude about life can’t help but give hope to others. His constant message is “Don’t give up!” His mom was a Mohawk and his dad a German – an interesting combination which has had a strong influence in his love for the earth and his entrepreneurship spirit. Kyle’s ability to adapt to changing circumstances especially with the workforce is incredible.

His first diploma was in electronic engineering and he worked back then with Nortel until the crash which forced him into new career pathways. He has another diploma in recreation management and in festivals and community events management from Algonquin College. He showed me his folder which has business cards of about 31 different job titles he has held over the years ranging from being a mason’s helper, a plant specialist, running a taxi service, the owner of three retail flower stores, staffing supervisor, marketing director, landscape, event manager, property manager, banker, auto sales and repair and so many others. He has done all combinations from having a full-time job to having two jobs at a time, to being his own boss and to sometimes having no work at all! When I asked him what his best job was, he asked me “Economically?” And so I was surprised when he said he netted $78,000 as a flower delivery staff for a flower store. I would have never imagined there was so much money to be made in delivering flowers… this was what led him to owning three flower stores later on. His experience in life is so broad and varied that he also describes himself as an “old fashion encyclopedia” and encourages people to ask him anything!

How can one shift from so many jobs? In North America, I have learnt that it is normal to change careers 3 – 5 times, but Kyle has far broken that record. His response to that is to embrace the journey. “Every time I search for a new journey, I meet amazing people. However the key dominator is gardening!”

Interestingly enough, it was his garden that ignited my interest in wanting to talk to him. He has a passion for gardening and you can feel it immediately as you look into his yard which is very close to the bus-stop where many of us catch the bus in the morning. His garden is usually the topic of conversation because of the combination of flowers and vegetables in there but more importantly, the people in he area feel connected to the garden because he has opened it up to us to use whatever vegetables he has growing. Last week, a neighbour was joyfully telling us that she had picked about 20 lettuce leaves the night before. He gave a few of us some tips about harvesting the lettuce by pulling the leaves from the outside of the plant and not pull out the entire plant. This allows the plant to continue producing more leaves from the centre.

“I try to put a positive spin on the eco system as well and use what people throw away into something useful.” This is clear in the many recycled things he showed me in his garden from the stones he used to create his walkway to the flower pots and my favourite one was the small tomato plants he rescued from a neighbour who was throwing them away. He created a lovely row of tomato plants at the curb.

Kyle also shared with me that he took thrift management courses which has also helped him to be wise about how he uses things as well as to think more carefully between needs and wants. Over the years, he has learnt that he does not have to buy everything. For example, most of the plants in his garden came from “somewhere” or “someone”. He shared one story of being able to get about $6000 worth of plants from a person who was changing his front yard to interlocking bricks. Kyle took all the plants which would have been discarded and beautified his cottage property. Similarly when someone else was changing his front yard and Kyle received six truck loads of topsoil for this garden. He also gives back a hundred fold to others from this garden or if someone gives him a plant he would happily be of some service in their garden. Instead of buying plants full price, he waits for them to go on sale and then buys them. He starts plants from seeds in his small greenhouse in the basement – so from a packet of seeds which cost $2.49, he can get up 19 plants which could cost as much as $60.00!

It is hard not to notice the deep gratitude that Kyle has for everything in his life and the compassion which he has for people. Regardless of the challenges he has faced, he seem to attract good things to him and I could not help but ask him how he does that. His simple answer was “Give back to others” He feels blessed and that feeling of gratitude and trusting that life will offer all that he needs as he also plays his part in making an effort to move forward, is really the key to personal success.

For those of us who think that we don’t have a green thumb to start a garden, his message is “Can you care for a seed?”

We are living in times where our ability to adapt to change is critical for survival. More importantly though, is our ability to embrace those changes as part of our journey but to also stay rooted in our values and who we are at our core. One of the things that Kyle has learnt about himself, regardless of all the career/job changes, is that being with the earth matters to him. “When I am with the earth, I feel I can get access to higher powers within me… it is my inspiration.”
TuneIn today to that inner place within you. What would you need to remain connected to in your toughest moments in life? StepUp to offer something to someone… giving and receiving is the continuous natural cycle of life which keeps all things flourishing. Sometimes, we perhaps don’t need more money… maybe we need to re-think the difference between our needs and wants and how to better use what we do have!