Difficult Emotions

Why Behavior and Emotion Spreads and What to Do About It

Recently, without stopping in a hardware store with my sons, one of them pointed out that my vocalizing had shifted. Apparently, without realizing it, I spoke to the man working in the hardware store with a very strong “Minnesota accent.” It was surprising to have this pointed out since I didn’t notice the shift.

According to behavioral researchers, humans (and animals) switch their policies all the time to match those virtually them. For instance, fish have been found to reprinting each other’s policies in mathematically predictive ways as they swim virtually in a school. One fish goes to trammels out a floating piece of kelp, others will follow.

At Yale University, Dr. John Bargh and his colleagues have labeled this the “chameleon effect,” a miracle in which people, expressly those of status, can get others to unconsciously reprinting their behavior. They famously conducted an experiment where subjects were interviewed by someone who occasionally made strange movements. As she touched her squatter more, the subjects would start touching their face. As she folded her legs more, the subjects unconsciously did the same.

Bargh’s colleague at Yale, Dr. Laurie Santos, moreover the host of the popular podcast The Happiness Lab, has remoter found that not just policies but emotions are contagious. When one family member, expressly a parent, or when one colleague, expressly a leader, is in an yellow-eyed mood, that mood quickly passes to others virtually them.

Surely you’ve felt this. You’re in a meeting and the superabound is particularly impatient and harsh. You start to finger yourself getting insecure, stressed, uptight.

If you haven’t felt it, then you might just be the one who has reverted the tone of a meeting by your emotions!

This is what’s tabbed emotional contagion.

It’s like the banking contagion that occurred when Silicon Valley Wall and other regional banks tabular last week.

A few people make a run on the wall for their deposits and quickly the unshortened institution crashes under an waterfall of requests for funds.

Let’s remember: Emotion and policies are contagious.

Watch Out for What Might Infect You!

During flu season, or during a viral outbreak, you’re likely to alimony a unscratched loftiness from others, wash your hands and build your immunity through physical care.

Likewise, you can watch out for people virtually you who may be infected by bad policies or moods — expressly fear and anxiety. Just like you’d protect yourself from a physical virus, you can differentiate yourself by choosing to alimony your mood separate.

To do this, unclose their policies or mood and underpin to yourself that you don’t need them to be ok for you to be ok, that you’ll remain unfluctuating to them while staying emotionally and behaviorally separate.

Watch Out for How You Might Infect Others!

Especially if you’re in any position of validity or status, realize that your deportment and mood will be “caught” by others. If you’re in a bad mood, it might be weightier to quarantine yourself if possible. For example, if you’re not going to follow the process or if you’re freaking out, be discrete.

One of the greatest responsibilities leaders have is to model what they expect and manage emotions that might infect.

If you’ve been reading my posts for a while, you know that I’m a huge Edwin Friedman fan. He makes a compelling case that the most important act of a leader is to manage their own emotions.

Sometimes it’s fun and helpful to switch your policies or emotions. I enjoy talking in a Minnesota accent, and it might make me increasingly relatable to locals!

But spoliation can have consequences that every leader should prepare for and manage.

Where do you see behavioral or emotional spoliation in your organization or family?

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