It’s 9am on a Monday morning. You’ve had a nice relaxing weekend and are fully charged for the day and week ahead. You walk into the conference room for the weekly staff meeting and find everyone is smiling, joking and talking about how their weekend went. As others stroll in, they instantly feel the energy in the room.
Then, the inevitable happens. The boss walks into the meeting looking down and tense, and even before he says a word, his body language itself is enough to suck the life out of the room. The conversation that was in progress comes to an abrupt halt. Sounds familiar? Welcome to the world of emotional contagion.
Emotional contagion is the phenomenon of having one person's emotions and related behaviours directly trigger similar emotions and behaviours in other people. Neurologically speaking, emotional contagion is explained by means of mirror neurons which are involved in empathy. It is as though this neuron adopts the other person’s point of view.
Emotional contagion has huge implications in the world of business. We often come across managers who complain that their teams have all the resources, tools and database, but appear to lack energy. What they fail to realize is that the team’s energy is a direct reflection of the manager’s energy, thanks to emotional contagion. And leaders, because of the position they hold, exert a disproportionate impact on the moods and feelings of their team members.
So, if you are a leader or in a leadership position, remember, your emotions and behaviours can lead to tangible ripple effects in your teams and organizations.