Archives For contagious emotions

This was originally posted on the Leadership Quest Blog on October 25th, 2011. 

I had dinner the other evening with a small distinguished group of business leaders. One of them is a remarkable woman named Sharon. She is Chief Operating Officer at a major health and medical company. She is from Texas, very smart and has that endearing quality and classic southern beauty and accent. Her husband is out of state receiving treatment for a serious cancer condition, a fact I only found out late into our conversation.

The reason I am writing about her today is I felt she was contagious! Not contagious like the flu, but “Playing Big” contagious. Her people skills are a 10 out of 10. Her smile and greeting are warm and inviting. She has eye contact in conversations that says “tell me more.” Sharon has a way of including everyone in the conversation. She asks questions and looks for a deeper understanding. Everything about her is professional and down-to-earth. 

I am around a lot of people on a regular basis, I meet new people, talk to old friends, find myself in crowded rooms, but I have to say that this woman possessed something that I have not seen often. If she had tried to sell me something that night, I would have bought it!

Part of Playing Big has to do with having amazing people skills.

This is a quality that we can overlook. It is something that unless it is seriously lacking, we may not notice that it is there. It is not about being outgoing so much as it is about taking real vital interest in others. Understanding how contagious your moods, your attitudes, and your emotions can be.

Daniel Goleman

Daniel Goleman wrote a sensational book several years ago titled, “Emotional Intelligence.” He explained that your IQ is pretty fixed by the age of 16 while your EQ is something that can be developed throughout life. We process tactical and technical skills that help us in life and work. But those EQ and Emotional Intelligence “Play Big” skills are unlimited for improvement.

He explained that with every human encounter (just like that dinner with Sharon) we don’t just exchange information, we literally influence one another’s moods, attitudes, and emotions.

Studies have been done with ICU nurses. Some of the nurses had very little human contact with their patients. They just changed out the IV, administered medications, and read the charts. Others had significantly more human interaction with their patients, speaking with them, softly touching their arms or shoulders, looking them in the eye, or even saying a few words of encouragement. And guess what?… Yup, the patients’ improvements were painfully slow under the supervision of the nurses who had less human interaction. While those gifted nurses who took a little extra time, had patients who improved dramatically faster!

This is a representation of a real life effects that an emotional exchange can have! Do you wonder what improvements you could cause in the world around you if you learn to have this type of positive people skills? Over 75% of communication is non-verbal; instead it comes from your body language and your tone of voice.

Practice these behaviors to Play Big with your People Skills

  • Setting your emotional state early in the day, strive to be positive
  • Feed your mind a healthy mind diet
  • Watch how your moods affect others and begin to master your moods
  • Greet people with a smile and a warm handshake
  • Practice keeping good eye contact during conversation
  • Remember people’s names and use it in your conversation and when you say goodbye
  • Learn to shift interactions towards more positive states and be a positive influence
  • Treat all people as people. No person is a machine.
  • Be the most positive person you know.

Side Note:

Sharon is highly successful and has worked and interacted with world-class people. It wasn’t until I finally found out about her husband, that I realized the full impact of what she must be going through. And yet she didn’t have a “pity me” or “victim” attitude. Instead, she warmly said to me “Steve, I just know that with your good prayers and with those of so many of my friends, my husband will truly recover. It has been such a pleasure to meet you.” All I have to say back is, thank you, Sharon for showing me how I can grow and learn to Play Big with Emotional Intelligence every day, no matter what.

Part of Playing Big has to do with amazing people skills.
This is a quality that we can overlook. It is something that unless it is seriously lacking, we may not notice that it is there. It is not about being outgoing so much as it is about taking real vital interest in others. Understanding how contagious your moods, your attitudes, and your emotions can be.

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I was facilitating a luncheon meeting but on this occasion was happy not to speak.  There with me was a group of business leaders who resembled a torn and tattered team at halftime: physically beaten down even though the game wasn’t complete. We had gathered in front to hear the founder of a successful company speak on the subject of “How to Rebuild Business Cultures to Succeed Again.”

The mood was grim. Not a lot of boasting or bragging going on with this gang.

My thoughts drifted back to thoughts of what the speaker was going to say to this despondent group of business leaders –how in the world could his message lift theses leaders of the ashes of despair? No sooner had I been thinking these thoughts, did the speaker stroll into the room. He wasn’t cocky, but extremely confident. He worked the crowd like a well-seasoned politician, greeting everyone and shaking hands. He brimmed with remarkable people skills and genuine warmth. I sat amazed as the whole mood of the room changed. He seemed to alter the environment of the gathering with only his positive emotions. It was like this leader’s emotions were contagious.  Soon everyone seemed to perk up and sit up. His message was insightful and relevant. He inspired us with words and gave us a pathway to renewed action. The thing I noticed was his electrifying eye contact and physical energy. Everyone seemed to sync to his optimistic attitude and feed off his vision!

When the meeting concluded, the networking and energy soared. Business cards were exchanged with hearty handshakes and smiles all around.

Wow, one guy, one emotional exchange, one meeting, and dozens were impacted for good!

Don’t tell me Emotional Intelligence is “just a soft skill.” It is a “hard edge business skill” that happens to be the number one predictor of peak performance, professional success, and personal excellence.

Emotional Intelligence is that unique ability of understanding how emotions drive our behaviors and the behaviors of those around us. It is a game changing skill that you can develop.  Things like your personal self-awareness, self-management of your emotions, and authentic relational connections.

I guarantee that business speaker was extremely intentional about his mood, attitude, and emotions. He knew he was contagious for better or for worse. And this time, it was for the better. It was powerful.

Try it on today:

Here is my challenge to you today:
Try on a powerful and positive emotion today. Watch and observe how people respond to your smile, your body language, and your choice of words… your mood can move people. Walk differently, talk differently, act differently, and watch the results.

My dad used to say: “people do business with people they like.” We follow leaders we like, we purchase from people we like, and we even select businesses based on products and services we like. So, be likable! Watch the power of Emotional Intelligence in your life and I think you’ll see some positive new changes around how people respond to you. Your personal attraction will go up. One of the very cool effects is that you’ll see people change for the good because of your mood. It’s powerful and it provides powerful results!