You walk into a room. And before you even open your mouth, you know. You can feel it. Your heart rate starts to rise. You feel hot & a bit nauseous as the cortisol starts to flow. The person in the room is mad, steaming, angry and the volatility is contagious.
People who are angry, negative, difficult share their emotions – they are emotionally contagious. I know this – for the last few years of my marriage, I would listen to the sound of my former husband’s footsteps as he walked to his office and then downstairs. I would get a sense of his mood, based on how his footsteps sounded and then behave accordingly – sometimes scooping up the kids and heading out the house to avoid conflict.
People’s emotions don’t just affect themselves. Emotions are contagious. This can have amazing positive results – the soothing effect of your grandma, when you’re lying in hospital – can actually reduce your blood pressure and increase your immunity. And we all know how our dogs and cats can soothe us!
That happy person who infuses your day with joy, just by their bubbly presence in your life – your child who smiles and hugs you and your grumpiness just melts away. These positive people share their positive emotions, spreading their joy & positivity.
Interestingly, neutral emotions are not contagious – they have to be positive or negative to be contagious, which I found particularly interesting. I often find people who have a calm neutral energy to be very soothing!
The sharing of your emotions is important to be aware of for personal reasons – those who you live with and love, and for your working relationships. Leaders who crash and burn usually do this as a result of a failure to manage emotional outbursts which negatively impacts their ability to lead. People lose faith in those who cannot manage themselves.
So remember – next time you feel something strongly, that you are sharing with those around you. Take responsibility. Meditate – learn to manage your emotions by watching them – see how they come and go, see how they change and do not define who you are. Learn to let them go and come back to the breath. Above all, learn to manage your negative emotions, so you’re not contagious with your anger or fear!