I don't understand how smiling is friendly

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hollowmoon
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01 Aug 2015, 2:23 am

Aren't they just teeth? It's odd to me. How can teeth be friendly?

* Also is there a way to "smile with the eyes"- which muscles should be used to do this?



Raleigh
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01 Aug 2015, 3:02 am

Yeah. When animals show you their teeth, it's not usually friendly.


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Amity
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01 Aug 2015, 3:19 am

Its a standard non verbal method of communicating that you are an approachable type of person, indicating that you are open to conversation, and will be cordial to those who interact with you, maybe even a fun person to hang out with.
That is the explanation I was given by a complete stranger who approached me just to tell me to smile when I was 18.



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01 Aug 2015, 4:00 am

It's a weird human thing. Even other higher primates recognize a smile with teeth showing as an aggressive gesture demanding immediate reprimand. Never smile at a chimp or an orangutan. Make a kissy face instead, it's what they consider a friendly face.


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hollowmoon
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01 Aug 2015, 4:02 am

Amity wrote:
Its a standard non verbal method of communicating that you are an approachable type of person, indicating that you are open to conversation, and will be cordial to those who interact with you, maybe even a fun person to hang out with.
That is the explanation I was given by a complete stranger who approached me just to tell me to smile when I was 18.


How do you smile if theres no eye contact- should you stare at someone waiting until they look at you and then smile?



jimmyboy76453
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01 Aug 2015, 6:28 am

Teeth aren't friendly. Smiling is one of those acts that NTs intrinsically understand without needing an explanation, but some on the spectrum may not. Smiling is friendly simply because people who see it understand that it is friendly. Smiling is a natural physical reaction to happiness and other positive feelings. When you laugh, your mouth makes a smile shape automatically. When you do something you love or experience something you enjoy, you may often smile without realizing that you are smiling. Smiling is as natural as yawning or crying; it is the body's way of expressing something. That's the only reason why it is friendly.
When you smile at other people, it tells them that you are in a good mood, that you are happy, and that this person's presence or interaction with you is not making you feel less happy.


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Amity
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01 Aug 2015, 8:27 am

hollowmoon wrote:
How do you smile if theres no eye contact- should you stare at someone waiting until they look at you and then smile?


I don't understand your question.

Staring is considered rude and suddenly smiling when the person looks at you might creep them out. If you want to smile at people maybe wait until they smile first, or have a softened facial expression in preparation for interactions where you would like to smile, it might feel more comfortable than a toothy grin.



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01 Aug 2015, 8:37 am

hollowmoon wrote:
* Also is there a way to "smile with the eyes"- which muscles should be used to do this?


There is a way to smile with the eyes, but not voluntarily. One of the features that distinguishes a genuine smile from a deliberate smile is a slight crinkling of the skin around the eyes. This is caused by muscles that people cannot consciously control, but which automatically contract when most people are very happy.

So, someone who is consciously choosing to smile despite not being happy will smile with their mouth and not their eyes. Someone who is smiling automatically out of happiness will smile with both mouth and eyes. And someone who is happy but choosing not to smile will smile with their eyes only.

However, for many autistic people, smiling doesn't come naturally even if you are happy. In which case, you probably can't smile with your eyes. Don't worry. Even if NTs realize a smile is forced, it's not that unusual to fake smile to be polite.



Kiriae
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01 Aug 2015, 9:30 am

Ettina wrote:
hollowmoon wrote:
* Also is there a way to "smile with the eyes"- which muscles should be used to do this?


There is a way to smile with the eyes, but not voluntarily. One of the features that distinguishes a genuine smile from a deliberate smile is a slight crinkling of the skin around the eyes. This is caused by muscles that people cannot consciously control, but which automatically contract when most people are very happy.

So, someone who is consciously choosing to smile despite not being happy will smile with their mouth and not their eyes. Someone who is smiling automatically out of happiness will smile with both mouth and eyes. And someone who is happy but choosing not to smile will smile with their eyes only.

However, for many autistic people, smiling doesn't come naturally even if you are happy. In which case, you probably can't smile with your eyes. Don't worry. Even if NTs realize a smile is forced, it's not that unusual to fake smile to be polite.


It can be done voluntarily, at least I can do it, or rather I did it right now and now I cannot voluntarily stop. LOL

I started by making my mouth in a huge smile and squeezing my eyes like I usually do when I laugh. Then I thought "What's the big deal? It was actually too easy." and... started laughing for real. And now I cannot stop. I try to get my mouth straight but the muscles around my eyes stay a little squeezed no matter what I do. And when I try to control them I snort a laugh because I realize I am unable to. :lol:
But I have no idea how someone could tell my eyes are smiling. I feel they do but when I look in the mirror there are some small wrinkles around my eyes but it could as well be a normal face feature(however they are usually not there). If wrinkles like that are sign of a smile then I will probably be considered a forever happy old lady because with my smiling patterns I am bound to develop wrinkles there.

I never had trouble with making a smile (except the time when I was really depressed, it was unbelievable for me when I realized my muscles won't form into a smile when I wanted them to because I always could make a smiling face before). When I am happy you can see it on my face ever since I was a 2 months old baby and around middle school I learned to use the same face whenever I am stressed too, because it makes me feel less stressed (actually not just me, it's scientific fact: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/th ... and-stress ). Which means I am smiling pretty much all the time during social interaction. Either from stress or happiness. I was even told by some people that I always smile.



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01 Aug 2015, 9:44 am

In my experience, smiling is a very good indicator of one's intention to be (at least superficially and sometimes genuinely) nice, kind and friendly. I think it's a facial expression that the facial muscles of human beings rather naturally make when they are happy/want to be nice to other people. I don't know how we have evolved/been conditioned to do that. It's not just about showing teeth. And I think many people take advantage of this originally natural facial expression and fake it to show fake friendliness as well. So you can't fully rely on it to know someone's true intention. Some similar actions/facial expressions such as smirking and sneering are not the same as smiling.



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01 Aug 2015, 10:51 am

Ettina wrote:
hollowmoon wrote:
* Also is there a way to "smile with the eyes"- which muscles should be used to do this?


There is a way to smile with the eyes, but not voluntarily. One of the features that distinguishes a genuine smile from a deliberate smile is a slight crinkling of the skin around the eyes. This is caused by muscles that people cannot consciously control, but which automatically contract when most people are very happy.


My cat was curled up on my shoulder the other day (I have big shoulders) and he snuggled up to my neck and fell asleep. I was feeling really happy and I thought it was really cute and wanted to take a selfie with my cat there--but when I looked at the image, I didn't like the expression on my face at all. The happiness I was feeling did not show at all. So I "smiled for the camera" and took another shot--but the smile looked fake and terrible, and then I tried to think about the happiest things I could and deliberately tightened the muscles around my eyes in the way they do with a huge smile, and took another picture--that one looked OK, I think.

So I think if you really feel this out and study it, you can deliberately do the muscles around the eye thing, at least to pose for a photo--but you cannot spontaneously or naturally force that.



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01 Aug 2015, 1:50 pm

jk1 wrote:
In my experience, smiling is a very good indicator of one's intention to be (at least superficially and sometimes genuinely) nice, kind and friendly. I think it's a facial expression that the facial muscles of human beings rather naturally make when they are happy/want to be nice to other people. I don't know how we have evolved/been conditioned to do that. It's not just about showing teeth. And I think many people take advantage of this originally natural facial expression and fake it to show fake friendliness as well. So you can't fully rely on it to know someone's true intention. Some similar actions/facial expressions such as smirking and sneering are not the same as smiling.

If I remember right, it's thought to have evolved from the display of slightly-clenched teeth which was a sign that no harm was meant (I suppose baring teeth with an open mouth was a sign that the owner of the teeth was about to bite). It's strange, I always thought that a smile was just a reflex reaction to feeling happy. I can't help but smile when something really pleases or amuses me.

The natural smile is expressed by the eyes as well as the mouth - the eye muscles kind of squint slightly. I guess that explains why a fake smile can look so weird, the mouth smiles but the eyes don't. But I suppose many people are so cunning and self-conscious that they learn to think positive thoughts in order to make a credible fake smile. I wish they'd just be honest, but given the advantages of not being, I can't imagine it'll get any better. Interesting, though, that in some parts of the world they don't fake it so much. Maybe they've not read Dale Carnegie yet?



militarybrat
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01 Aug 2015, 4:19 pm

Its a cultural form of nonverbal communication. In most Western cultures when someone smiles it just means that they are happy and/or that they like you and thus are happy to see you (hence the friendly interpretation because that is what they are trying to emote with their facial expressions). There is a way to "smile with your eyes" apparently but I do not understand the mechanisms behind how this works.



ToughDiamond
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01 Aug 2015, 7:00 pm

militarybrat wrote:
There is a way to "smile with your eyes" apparently but I do not understand the mechanisms behind how this works.

These web pages may be informative:
http://www.wikihow.com/Smile
http://basicinstructions.net/basic-inst ... smile.html
I can't vouch for them though, so anybody using them does so at their own risk. And don't get caught practising.



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01 Aug 2015, 10:29 pm

I didn't know showing teeth was required for smiling...seems people do it with their mouths closed just fine. Or are you referring to those obnoxious dentistry commercials that refer to your teeth as your 'smile'.


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01 Aug 2015, 11:07 pm

Open or shut is fine by me. As long as it's genuine. I don't even care much if people don't smile, in fact I'd rather they didn't if they aren't feeling happy. But maybe the modern herd thinks a closed-mouth smile is an attempt to hide a lack of perfectly aligned, whiter-than-white teeth.