Tuning into the energy of your team and being able to steer the overall mood is an attribute of a skilled leader, but how aware are you of your own energy projection and how this is affecting others?
In this post, we explain ‘energy contagion’ and the different energy zones you operate in – as well as give you a free resource to start using today so you can develop the skills needed to influence disengaged, lacklustre team into a more proactive, dynamic one.
What is emotional contagion?
Emotional energy contagion describes the phenomenon where the emotional state of one person is transferred to another.
This often happens subconsciously, but even when we are conscious of other people’s moods, it doesn’t always stop us from adopting them.
It can cause us to unconsciously mimic and synchronise the facial expressions, posture and movements of another person1Hatfield, E., Cacioppo, J. T., & Rapson, R. L. (1994). Emotional contagion. New York: Cambridge University Press.
An extreme example of this is when you are faced with an aggressive driver – most of us would struggle to not feel aggravated for a while afterwards!
Three Degrees of Influence
In the book ‘Connected: The surprising power of our social networks and how they shape our lives‘, it is revealed that social networks obey a ‘Three Degrees of Influence’ rule.
Impact in the workplace
Whether you are an expressive individual or not, your team are likely to be highly attuned to the nuances of your own emotional state. This gives a good indication of why culture can trickle down so quickly from the top, even within large organisations.
Emotional contagion be a real danger within teams at work if negative emotions, and their associated behaviours, spread from one person to others.
The good news is that the reverse is also true – positivity is infectious!
Something to try today
A useful tool for checking in with ourselves is the ‘energy zones quadrant’ – which you can download for free here.
It describes us as operating in one of four broad zones: