Emotional Contagion (Wharton NanoTools)

Emotions are like viruses, so negative emotions can spread, especially amongst highly networked employees. This vitality can be leveraged, both for positive and negative emotional states.

Negative state emotional contagion can be used to elicit shared feelings of frustration or anger in cases where teams have lost to a competitor or have not met their goals.

Actionable steps –

  1. Be consciously aware of your own mood. 
  2. Use your nonverbal behaviours to communicate emotional contagion. 
  3. Make direct eye contact with everyone on the team. 
  4. Neutralise a negative team member. 
  5. Create a positive emotional culture within the team. 

My thoughts –

I didn’t see this so much as a tool, rather something to be mindful of as a manager – your emotions can spread, you need to be conscious and deliberate in managing and showing your emotions, you can direct those emotions towards goals. 

At the same time, I saw number 5 – create a positive emotional culture within the team –  as a consequence rather than actionable action. 

Stating (destructive) negative emotions and their actions won’t be tolerated seems somewhat gaslighting – after all, these (destructive) negative emotions would generally be in response to something. So pushing such things seems like it will reinforce such negative states. 

Stating that one should focus on “Creating a culture of caring and compassion” whilst a Nice goal is also flawed advice – you can’t create it, it emerges as a result of behaviours and actions that are rewarded and embraced. So at best its inaccurate advice.

It seems obvious to point out we should – seek out and address the root causes of negative emotional contagion.

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