If momma ain’t happy

mommaWe’ve all seen versions of this poster – if momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.  It’s popular because it seems so true. A parent’s mood can dictate the mood for the whole family.

Turns out it’s true in the workplace as well.  There has been a lot of research recently showing that one team member’s mood, bad or good, can impact everyone else. Moods are contagious. I can talk myself into a bad mood in a matter of minutes.  And if I’m really crabby, it’s easy and fun to bring others along with me.  It takes more effort, but I can also talk myself out of a bad mood and contribute to a positive team environment.

As leaders, we need to be aware of mood contagion and its impact on team members and customers.  The Wharton School has some good advice for how to do this.

  1. Be aware of your own mood.  If it’s not constructive, change it. At the very least, act as if you’re in a better mood.
  2. Pay attention to what mood your nonverbal communication is projecting.
  3. Spread your positive mood by focusing on individual team members. Use eye contact to help.
  4. Actively work with negative team members to neutralize their contagious effect.
  5. Create a positive emotional culture. Encourage positive communication and manage destructive emotional behaviors.

Our staff and customers can easily pick up on our moods in the workplace, especially since the moods usually translate directly into actions.  As leaders, we can play a role in setting the climate for everybody.

Dee Anne Bonebright

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