The grumpy customer made you grumpy. The impatient driver activated your short fuse. The enthusiastic employee made you smile. The supportive manager inspired greater team camaraderie.
How others act affects how you act. It is called emotional contagion. Emotion contagion can be positive and inspiring, or it can be negative and demotivating. It all depends on how you show up to a situation and how you decide to respond instead of react. This has particular importance for leaders and managers within an organization.
Leaders set not only the strategic direction of the organization, but how they show up to their interactions, challenges, successes and opportunities influences how they engage or disengage an entire organization.
Think about a time when you encountered a disappointment, frustration or aggravation. How did you handle it? Did you ensure everyone around you knew you were frustrated or aggravated? Or, did you take a breath, manage your emotions and stay clear, focused and intentional about your direction? What was the impact on others of your choice?
Now think about a time when your boss encountered a disappointment, frustration or aggravation. How did they handle it? Did they make a point of sharing how frustrated and aggravated they were? Or did they handle it calmly, wisely and intentionally? Again, what was the impact on others because of their choice?
When we let the challenges and aggravations of work and life get under our skin, we absorb the negative energy and share it without thinking. If we are upset, others know it. And the more leaders share it, the more they can take an upbeat and productive organization, disengage the employees and quickly send them running to other organizations where leaders have learned to manage their emotions.
Here is some good news: the same happens with positive emotions. Approach your day with gratitude, patience, resilience and optimism and you will spread it. The more you feel these positive emotions, the better your days are and the more you can counteract the negative emotions from others. Think of it as a forcefield that encourages confidence, enthusiasm and positivity.
Being able to call on these positive emotions when things (and people) around you are challenging requires you to have a daily practice of building positive energy. Reading, listening to or playing music, taking a walk, enjoying nature, spending time with those you love and care about are all ways for you to develop a successful distraction from the negative energy and people, and to remind you that there is always more good around you than bad; you may just have to work harder to see it. It is up to you to build your toolbox – the things that help you stay upbeat, calm and optimistic, regardless of the challenges, noise and nasty people around. These situations and others’ behaviors are about them, not you.
Make it your choice who and how you want to be. Building a practice of self-management and resilience through gratitude, optimism and care builds a positive forcefield that negativity cannot pierce.
At the beginning of each day, identify 3 things that will make your day great. Do the same thing at the end of the day; identify 3 things that made your day great. Focus on being positive, optimistic and engaged. Identify when you brought negative energy to your workplace or life – and why. Be on the lookout for other times that will take you down and build your positive focus to meet them head on.
When you have a successful optimism and gratitude practice, it is easier and more successful to handle whatever life sends. From this place, you send off a greater, happier energy that can then ripple through your workplace or home. You encourage more positive emotions and actions in others, instead of allowing their negativity and pessimism to influence you.
By Jay Forte
Consider reading How to Get the People Thing Right for Your Business