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Have you ever been someplace where everyone was glad to see you? Where people catered to your every whim and met needs you didn’t know you had before you even knew you had them? Where bells tinkled as you walked in the room, where smiles gleamed and faces beamed in radiant joy just to meet you

Me, neither.

But the closest I may ever come to such a magical place is Disneyland. They sure are nice there. Every single person was knowledgeable, polite, friendly and just plain ol’ nice. Every cast member told every passenger to “Have A Nice Day” and somehow managed to sound like they meant it.

When I worked in retail, I perfected something we called the Courtesy Smile. I’m sure they do it at Disney, too, but it’s hard to spot when you’re on the receiving end. It’s done only with the lips, never affecting the eyes. It crosses your face as quickly as a fleeting ray of sunshine on a cold, rainy day. I could flash it in the middle of a fight with my boss or a tirade from an irate customer on the telephone. When aimed directly at you, it is meant to be friendly and approachable – but the second Ms. Jones’ steps away, it is replaced with a blasé gaze or grimace.

Come on, you know what I’m talking about! The Courtesy Smile is a survival tool for working with the general public for umpteen hours on end. Retail is grueling work, and that’s on a good day… but we love it. Solving problems, making people happy, hearing their stories. What other career combines marketing, psychology, finance, human resources, communications, business, art and phys ed?

If the Courtesy Smile is all you can muster, take time to remember why you loved this job in the first place. Do you ever fake it for Ms. Jones?

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