When we communicate with others, we tend to use smiles to increase our rapport with the other party. And this is especially so for the first few initial social encounters. This is a very good practice as maintaining eye contact and smiling are two basic expectations that most people are looking for when it comes to befriending someone, I believe.
However, some communicators tend to smile too much and too often. While there’s nothing wrong with smiling, too much smiling may indicate insincerity or appearing superficial to the recipient(s) of the smile. And to make matters worse, this is almost never the intention of the communicator who does that. When smiling takes place too often or too long, the other party will begin to doubt the sincerity of the communicator and over time, trust and rapport may drop (and what is regrettable is that much of this is happening with the communicator ignorant of it).
However, there is a cue. When someone’s expression changes from a jovial expression to a somewhat straight face while saying “No, seriously”, there’s a very high probability that he or she really means seriously. If we miss the cue and carrying on smiling or even laughing, we might inadvertently offend the other party. At this point, I feel that it’s very important that we take the last statement by the recipient very seriously. A way to prevent the rapport being damaged will be to continue the conversation within the same topic but maintaining a more serious tone subsequently.
We need to constantly remind ourselves that we must let the other party know that we are taking their responses very seriously. While the conversation can ensure in a rather light-hearted manner with jokes and some banter (which makes social exchanges such interesting experiences), good communicators often let the other party know that they care, they are listening and they are ready to respond either through their verbal responses or body language. Only then are we able to establish a long and lasting rapport with others.