We must appreciate the impact of emotional contagion on others, including the team. Our emotions are a significant driver of our behaviour and are hard-wired, which can cause us to react before we have a chance to consider the situation rationally and manage them.
What’s emotional contagion?
Wikipedia states, “Emotional contagion is the phenomenon of having one person's emotions and related behaviours directly trigger similar emotions and behaviours in other people."
The key is to become aware of how your emotions drive your behaviour!
Have you or someone you know ever lost control of their emotions and misbehaved in a professional or personal setting? I doubt anyone one of us could answer NO to that question. I have, and it's incredibly humiliating, especially once I realized the adverse situation I created due to my inability to manage my emotions. I showered everyone within hearing distance with negative emotional contagion, including those not involved. It was devastating to realize what I had done. I felt like curling up tiny and crawling away. It only takes one occasion to recognize better ways to manage our emotions and behaviour if we are self-aware.
Ways negative emotional contagion impacts others.
Spreading negative emotional contagion has an impact without question. This type of behaviour in the workplace affects morale and overall productivity negatively. It can create considerable distress and insecurity within the team. When coaching clients, I hear of numerous situations where someone in a supervisory position literally takes a team down to a level of dysfunction due to their loss of emotional control and ability to manage. Yes, emotional contagion can do that!
We encourage our clients to observe their emotional reactions and work to realign them with alternative ways to communicate and manage their behaviour to deliver positive results. Understanding how your emotions impact you and others, including your team, will significantly improve relationships, morale and productivity.
To really get to know ourselves, we must observe and reflect on our behaviour.
As we spend time reflecting on our behaviour, we become more self-aware, a key competency of emotional intelligence. As we increase our self-awareness, we manage our behaviour and interactions more skillfully. Without question, regulating your emotions will increase your overall success.
The good news is, this skill can be learned and developed. Once we become more familiar with how our emotions affect others, we can develop techniques to manage our emotions internally and share them as we choose externally.
If you’re interested in learning about emotional contagion and developing your self-awareness to enhance your emotional intelligence, you should view our Emotional Intelligence Assessment & Coaching.
This article was originally published on February 2, 2018, and has been updated (May 2021).
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