Are you in a good mood today? Did you catch it at work?

Even though we often make comments like “…he/she sure is in a bad mood today…” we rarely think beyond the obvious of the relationship between mood and performance at work.

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!

5 thoughts on “Are you in a good mood today? Did you catch it at work?

  • It’s amazing that we can “catch” other people’s anxiety, depression or stress – all with amazing speed and dexterity.

    Comment from: Danny Fletcher

  • Warren,
    A classic situation of ‘Trait’ effect (often related to the situational aspect of expressed State-Trait relationship) is where a high-performance athlete will repeatedly rate high on the ‘Extroversion’ scale of a personality test prior to a major event and then ‘choke’ on the big day. Pre-race steely respolve ‘collapses’ under the emotional weight of the event or the chanting crowd. One finds an equivalent effect at work, particularly where a very confident manager ‘freezes’ when asked to make that pivotal speech to the organisational masses. In the sporting domain, one often hears the post-event rationalisations: “I pulled a hamstring but gutsed-out the race; the umpire was biased” and so on. So, is the personality questionnaire respondent really and ‘extrovert’, or is this a well-camouflaged introvert?
    Hope this helps

    Comment from: Strategic Outcomes

  • Read somewhere about something called “trait affect” when it comes to emotions. Can you explain what this is?

    Comment from: Warren Stent

  • Des,
    I investigated the effect of ‘group emotions’ under experimental-control research conditions in the generation of innovative products/ideas under conditions of ‘Certainty’ and ‘Uncertainty’ exploring the effects of group positive emotional affect and group negative emotional affect. The findings of these studies across both cultures were repeatedly contrary to what one would expect. In the conditions of uncertainty, the initial positive emotional affects transitioned into high levels of conflictual debate about ideas over 20 minutes, then rapidly fell away. In the alternate condition of certainty, the positive emotional affect rose slowly over 2 hours but not to the level of the uncertainty group and then dissipated slowly. Which group generated the largest number of independently rated higher quality innovations/innovative ideas? The group in the condition of uncertainty/debate and which experienced the higest level of group negative emotional affect (note: groups were not permitted to enter into personal denigration or abuse). Look at the most innovative organisations over the past 50 years. You will note this condition in near all!
    Hope this helps

    Comment from: Strategic Outcomes

  • Has there been much research done on the implications of “group emotions” in the workplace. Is it logical to assume that the effects of emotional contagion in workgroups within a workplace are reflecting by influences of key emotional players within their culture?

    Comment from: Des Ryan

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL


Leave a comment

Please do not paste links to websites or your comment will be deleted.