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Posted on: Sunday, 03 July 2011 by Rajiv Popat

When you come face to face with monkeys in their natural habitat most animal experts will give you one advice. Do *not* smile at them.

Monkeys (and most other animals) interpret the display of teeth as an act of aggression.

Showing teeth is way of scaring the enemy before a monkey attacks.

Smile at a monkey and he will show you his teeth back. Keep smiling and you are instigating the monkey to strike.

Human beings on the other hand use smiles to connect to others and to make each other feel good.

Even though we share some behavior patterns with primates our reasons for smiling are very different than there. A simple lesson that most managers it seems need to be taught explicitly.

"No, No, No, No, there is nothing I can do about it. You need to finish this in the given timeline." - how many times have you seen your manager give that response with a stupid grin on his face.

Management Advice: This is not a time to be smiling.

The least you can offer as a manager in times like this is empathy. An inappropriate grin in situations like these is an indication that you still see a grin as an act of aggression or intimidation.

And no, developers don't like working with monkeys.

When you are leading teams, your smiles, your body language, your tone and a whole lot of other aspects are being judged implicitly and automatically by the people you work with.

So, if you are wondering why no one tells your about their quitting plans or why no one ever invites you to team parties, maybe that is because you give us that stupid grin when you should be empathizing with your developers.

Just saying.