C. Langdon



Below is a four-minute video.  Watch it and tell me this just doesn't make you feel good.  There's a reason why it does.  Let me explain - after you watch it.


Emotional Contagion

In the video, you are seeing emotional contagion at work.  It's a phenomenon where one person's emotions and related behaviors directly trigger similar emotions and behaviors in other people.  Now, let's bring this to the workplace.

I’ve often wondered what makes a high performing team.  I’ve done some studying on my own trying to understand this.  In my professional career, which has spanned some 20+ years, I believe I’ve been a part of two high performing teams.  Teams where things just get done.  Teams where everyone is on the same page.  Teams where questions don’t have to be asked, it’s implicitly understood.  Teams where everyone just gets each other.  Teams where everyone’s roles and responsibilities are understood and agreed.  It’s an awesome feeling to witness and be a part of.

The video and the notion of emotional contagion makes me think of these teams.  We didn’t synchronize to dance or music but we did synchronize our schedules and commitments to one another.  We created a name for ourselves within the organization to where people wanted to transfer/join our team, be a part of us.  I equate this to those in the video at the end clapping and acknowledging what they witnessed.  They were a part of something unique and fun.  It made them feel good. 

Barbara Fredrickson, a psychology professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been quoted as saying, “Beyond the dance of positivity between you and the person you helped, those who witness your good deed may well feel inspired, their hearts uplifted and elevated.”  Now, this is probably a bit of a stretch for my teams’ conversation but the notion is well deserved as it relates to emotional contagion.  People like to identify with winning and success but I think they feel most satisfied being associated with just plain good.

The next time you're at work, see if you can't observe the organizational behavior of emotional contagion.  If you can, your organization is probably doing something right - something for you to be proud of.