Smiling, Why Do Women Smile When They Are Angry?

Smiling, Why Do Women Smile When They Are Angry?

Women smile when they are angry, to protect themselves. The smile softens the strength of the anger and is seen in those who lack power or status.

Studies reveal that women smile more than men. Women are often taught not only to mask our aggressive feelings, to smile and not get angry. There are benefits to smiling. It projects warmth, conveys confidence and is a valuable tool for establishing rapport.

The problem comes when there is a mismatch. Giving a smile when you don't feel happy.

Smiling "happy" when it is inappropriate confuses men. Smiling "happy" when your tone of voice is angry or saying nothing is wrong while your tight smile says there is isn't honest. It can work against you by sending a mixed message. After observing and researching smiling since 1982 I fear that it is one of women's biggest challenges in work and personal relationships. My friend Elaine is brilliant, yet when she worked in corporate America she often met a glass ceiling. Yesterday she read a chapter in my new book and said, "Oh my gosh Patti, I think I smiled and laughed too much." After reading this chapter I realized I smiled at work when I was angry as well.

Isn't it funny when we are angry, we try not to communicate it, yet we want people to listen to us and grant our unexpressed request? When we sell a product or an idea we want to be credible, but we smile to be liked and so we may look weak instead of powerful, flirty and silly instead of credible.

Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at Also check out the body language quiz on her YouTube Channel at