I was upset…because she was upset.
…but seeing me upset, she got more upset…which made me upset even more.
And now it was a ‘self-sustaining chain’.
So I paused. Breathed deeply.
…and then I smiled, to which she didn’t. I still smiled, this time she attempted a fake one.
…which made me laugh, to which she smiled.
And it was again a ‘self-sustaining chain’.
Isn’t it amazing how emotions travel so quickly, widely, and unknowingly! Well, that’s what makes emotions so important and ‘social & emotional intelligence’ even more. After all, power to influence can’t be left to a brain who doesn’t know how to exercise it rightly.
But where do these phenomena of ‘emotional transaction’ and ‘emotional contagion’ come from? Unsurprisingly, they come from a creamy-colored wrinkled organ that you can hold in one cupped palm – brain. In our brain, we have multiple sets of special brain cells called ‘mirror neurons’. These mirror neurons get activated not only when you do a certain action, but also when you see someone else doing the same intentional action.
So, in a way, we all subconsciously mimic each act of every person around us, and also feel the effect of that mimicking. This is often termed as emotional contagion. Before we discuss its impact in some details, see this video to get the gist of what we are saying, why it is important, and how it has relevance in terms of both workplace as well as personal relationships…
Yes, you heard it right. Emotional contagion is for real, so much so that by mere presence of a person, there is an effect on our moods, hormone levels, cardiovascular function, and even on working of our immune-system. Importantly, it becomes even more prominent when that person is in a position of authority – like a teacher, boss or parent.
Specifically at workplace, it is important for the leader/boss to remember that, by virtue of being more visible and ‘looked up to’, one of their most important tasks is their own mood-management. It is because their emotional state affects all persons in their team, their mutual dynamics and eventually affects organization’s culture and productivity.
Thus, in all spheres, it is important for us to be aware of this interconnection between brain and behavior, as only a detailed knowledge of ‘structure and functioning of human brain’ combined with behavioral concepts can give us the all-important ‘social & emotional intelligence’ required to excel in our role of being a responsible transmitter of emotions. Well, this emotional & social intelligence is the science of managing self and connecting with others – a science that can be learnt, practiced and mastered.
However, it all begins with some important realizations like…‘Emotions are contagious’.
Dr. Sandeep Atre
‘Emotional & Social Intelligence’ Expert
Founder – Socialigence
Note: Socialigence (www.socialigence.net) offers self-paced video-based online course on ‘Social & Emotional Intelligence’ with content that has relevance across the globe, and delivery specifically customized according to the work-scenarios in India