Contagion In The Workplace

Contagion In The Workplace

by elainesuess

Recently, Facebook took heat for a little “experiment” they conducted at the beginning of the year. They served ads that were considered to be positive or negative to 700,000 FB members to see how it affected their postings. As my friend Mary’s mom used to say — You shouldn’t have done that (and in this case, we’ll complete the sentence with “Facebook”).

Why? Because Facebook didn’t ask permission. They just did it.

However, now that’s clear, what they learned and even published is important and supported by research that’s been done time and again. It’s also validated by experience, when we pay attention. 

Here’s what the experience part might look like:  maybe you left a meeting angry or frustrated because it didn’t go the way you planned. How did you look and what was your tone upon leaving? Were people drawn to you or did they stay out of your way for a while? People get it. People feel it.

In science, we talk about Mirror Neurons. Other people can feel our emotions and they mirror them back to us.

Overall, FB found that the postings of people who were served negative content were more negative. The postings of the people served positive content were more positive. 

Questions remain about their research, but we’re clear about the science done by others. 

Our emotions are contagious

The Takeaway

I spoke to a large group of leaders at the end of the year, sharing the message and business impacts of monitoring your mirrors. 

If we’re going to be contagious, be contagious in a positive way.

Your employees and colleagues will notice and respond in important ways.  It’s not a coincidence that Productive, Proficient and Performance begin with the same letter as Positivity. They’re related.

At least that’s my story (supported by science and experience).


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