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Well-Being Is Contagious

Well-Being Is Contagious

Viruses are not the only thing that are highly contagious. Humans are deeply interconnected, and both pain and positive well-being is contagious. Studies reveal that if you witness someone else experiencing pain—whether it’s a friend falling over in the street, or even a gloomy face in the waiting room of a medical clinic—you’re likely to experience some degree of pain yourself. Psychological journals have called this the “I feel your pain” effect, and all of us will experience it in our lifetime. I call it empathy. The ability to shoe-shift; to feel, process, understand and appreciate another’s emotion. It can be a radical force for social transformation in both organisations and in your personal life.

When you are feeling good, you’re responsible to spread it

Pain isn’t the only contagious emotion. Research over three decades, of 5,000 people from Yale University showed that when someone became happy, that emotion rippled through education, business, and the homes of all families. Another study showed that even below-the-surface emotions, such as motivation, are contagious. If someone is working in the same room with people who are internally driven, their attitude also improves.

This science all points toward the same basic truth: we are mirrors reflecting onto each other. The people we surround ourselves with shape us, and we shape those around us, too. The implications of this truth are important and actionable. How can we build this well-being contagion?

  1. Emotional intelligence (EI) first: EI can be learnt and Improved upon – it is a skill. 4 key components of EI include noticing and understanding emotions in ourselves, in others, effective regulation of our emotions and using these emotions to facilitate positive performance.
  2. Educate your leaders and teams on their role in promoting positive well-being contagion (if you don’t have a definition – call me and we can discuss!) within their teams and help them develop their skills
  3. Education should include a focus on emotional contagion and the value of positive emotions as a force for good in the workplace.
  4. You’d be wise to associate with people you admire and aspire to be like. It’s not so much rote skill that is contagious as it is the motivation and emotions that lead to skill development
  5. Master the art of “radical listening.” Our ability to be present to what’s really going on– to the unique feelings and needs a person is experiencing in that very moment. By doing this, you grasp the emotional state of another and then move to remove our own masks to reveal ourselves – empathy is a two-way street that in the end builds high quality connections with others.

Being aware of how easily emotions spread allows you to change yourself and, in turn, change those around you. Start spreading well-being now.

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