Have you noticed how quickly one person’s negative attitude can spread? Just like the common cold, a negative mood can be picked up by others, especially in a team environment. Research suggests that moods are contagious and that the people around you can have an enormous impact on the way you feel – and therefore the way you act.
Studies also show that people who report having ‘deenergising colleagues’ are twice as likely to quit, indicating that mood contagion may also have an effect on turnover rates.
Humans have a tendency to mimic the non-verbal behaviours of others, such as facial expressions and postures, so moods are often transferred across groups. One study from Harvard University found that long-lasting moods can spread over large groups through direct and indirect contact, while bad moods appear to be slightly more infectious.
The good news is that you can reduce the impact of a negative mood in the workplace. By instilling and modelling positive moods you can create a more upbeat team dynamic, which can help to increase performance and decrease staff turnover.
Dealing with negativity in your team
It’s important to understand that people don’t leave their feelings at home and some decisions made in the workplace could be driven by emotion rather than logic.
If you become aware of negativity within your team, try talking to those who appear to be involved. These people may not realise how they are being perceived or how much their mood is affecting the team.
If this is not possible, or doesn’t appear to help, consult the appropriate people and policies in your organisation to help manage the situation, such as Human Resources.
Helping positive moods catch on
As a manager, you’re in charge of setting the emotional climate of the workplace, so keep in mind that employees pay great attention to their managers’ emotions. These tips may help:
- Safe environment: create an environment where emotions are encouraged to be shared in a constructive and respectful manner.
- Don’t fake it: if you are unhappy but trying to convey a positive mood, your employees will probably see through it. So if you are struggling with your own emotions, take time to process them before meetings or key interactions with staff.
- Maintain a balance: while it’s important to be optimistic, avoiding or denying difficult situations isn’t helpful either. Try to balance realism and optimism where you can, and reach out for help and support from loved ones or healthcare professionals when you need it.