Emotions are contagious and can influence people’s moods in the work group and the dynamics and effectiveness of the group itself.
Most people don’t know emotional contagion is happening and it is influencing their behaviour!
Contagion of positive mood is as powerful as contagion of negative mood.
The down side of unrecognized positive mood contagion is that it leads to over-confidence in decision-making and results in what we refer to as ‘group-think’, that is, the sense of invulnerability which places pressure on the team member to conform to the group view of the problem – all of which leads to sub-optimal decision-making.
People are “walking mood inductors”, they continuously influence the moods – and the judgments and behaviours – of others.
Your group could unknowingly be affected by one negative group member: the “bad apple in the barrel” – the colleague who makes the entire group feel apprehensive, angry or dejected, thus, leading to low group morale, lack of group cohesion and withdrawal by some valued team members from interaction within the group.
The mood of this colleague kills creative ideas – it “spoils the whole barrel”.
But, the most powerful member of the group is the one who sits back and says nothing! Bad mood or bad ideas being discussed?
Don’t confuse negative mood with the expression of alternative and legitimate views of the problem solution.
Customer service jobs are more likely to be ‘infected’ by customers’ negative moods. On the other hand, the customer service worker’s negative mood can transfer to the customer leading to customer dissatisfaction.
Negative contagion can lead to long-term burnout in a sales environment or in healthcare jobs where healthcare providers are in constant contact with people who are ill or depressed.
Sales cultures exhort to “positive programming”, that is where the company constantly exhorts employees to stay positive and to transfer that positivity to others.
Charismatic or transformational leaders make strong and explicit use of emotional contagion to change organizational culture.
Remember the old proverb: “Win their hearts – and their minds will follow”.
Supervisors and managers are more prone to receive contagion from their subordinates – than the reverse!
Did you catch a good mood from your subordinate today!