Reflection: It’s the season of flu and ‘achoo’! We try to protect ourselves – and others – with flu shots, fist bumps, and hand washing. Still, somehow the devilish germs find a way to work their magic. Fact is, if we’re infected or afflicted, we’re contagious.
We’re emotionally contagious, too! Spend time in the company of a high-spirited individual with a positive outlook on events and an enthusiasm for life, and somehow you feel better about your world.
Spend those same hours in the company of someone whose signature color is gray, who specializes in morose and miserable, and you can easily find yourself skidding down that slippery slide into their ‘oh-so-roomy’ pit of despair.
What’s uncanny about it all is that the tendency to adjust our response or behavior to echo those of others around us is often unconscious. We may not even realize it’s happening.
For better or for worse, combine the expressed and underlying moods of everyone on a team or in a family and you’ve got the group’s collective emotional state. And that state influences morale and performance.
Team leaders need to be even more mindful about emotional state, since their influence is greater than that of a “regular” team member. I daresay this holds true for parents in a family situation, too.
Action: So what to do with this insight? Start by paying close attention.
Note how you feel heading into interactions with others, and mark how you feel coming out the other side. Watch how others approach interactions with you, and how they appear as you part ways.
Is there a shift in mood or expression – and is it for the better or the worse? If for the better, carry on.
If for the worse, vaccinate yourself against a doom attack with a shot of positivism and a high level of awareness that you can, in fact, choose your responses. It may even help to keep your distance.
If you, yourself, seem to have a downer effect on others, well that’s a different case entirely. You are in complete control of what you choose to notice, how you choose to comment, and the ways you choose to interact. If what you’re doing now is bringing others down, try something else.
Pay close attention to how energizers inject their high-spiritedness into every situation. You might even ask for feedback or coaching from someone whose approach has that infectiously positive impact on others.
Contagion is nothing to sneeze at! (By the way…bless you!)
Quotes Of The Week: “Attitudes are contagious. Are yours worth catching?” – Dennis and Wendy Mannering
“In any family, measles are less contagious than bad habits.” – Mignon McLaughlin
Resources Of The Week: This series of articles by Sherrie Bourg Carter in Psychology Today offers a more detailed explanation of emotional contagion, suggestions for avoiding ‘infection’, and a tool to assess your susceptibility.
- Emotions Are Contagious – Choose Your Company Wisely
- 5 Ways to Avoid Catching a Bad Case of Emotions
- The Emotional Contagion Scale
Readers Write: In response to last week’s message ‘Will You Take A Chance On Joy?’ Pause reader JH writes: At the advice of a friend I recently started formally practicing gratitude. It was something I had done years ago after picking up the ‘Simple Abundance’ book and gratitude journal. Somehow I fell out of the habit of writing in the journal, and then of holding on to those teeny and great moments of gratitude in any given day. Wouldn’t you know it—my world lens got a bit dimmer and more gloomy. Well, nowadays they have an App for Gratitude! I downloaded ‘Gratitude 365’ from iTunes and have been happily recording daily moments of joy, happiness, and gratitude. You can even attach a picture to the entry, so the photo of my cat perched on the edge of my bubble bath has an entry in my journal. Thanks as always for the positive messages that you bring to my inbox.