A 1999 study conducted by Sigal Barsade at the Yale School of Management show that cheerfulness and warmth spread easily among working groups whilst irritability caught on less so. It will not surprise you to know that laughter is very contagious. When we hear laughter we find it difficult not to laugh or smile ourselves. Do you recall getting caught up in a spiral of giggles in a group? One starts and others follow. We get caught up because the brain has an open loop circuit that is designed to detect smiles and laughter and respond in kind. Scientists theorise that this dynamic was hardwired long ago because smiles and laughter had a way of cementing alliances and keeping our species alive.
I have read of many experiments to change attitudes to groups of people by forcing contact. If there is no enjoyment in the contact the attitude doesnâ€™t change. It hardens.
The main implication here for us is that we can change the moods of others. The loop is open to outside influence. Be they customers, team members, peers, managers or family members, we can be a major influence in helping others to feel happy.
Some simple ways of doing this are:
- Greet enthusiastically. Donâ€™t tell people how you are. Tell them how youâ€™d like to be. Try some colourful words like: sensational, never been better, enjoying my life!
- Smile. Even if you donâ€™t feel like smiling, others will react to your smile and smile back. You will see their returned genuine smile and react automatically with a genuine smile. Fake can become genuine.
- Shake hands warmly. Physical contact will help people feel better about themselves and about you. Match the strength of their grip and look them in the eye. Soft for soft. Hard for hard.
- Farewell warmly. People will remember the last words you say so make them memorable. â€˜Hope to see you againâ€™, â€˜Great to see youâ€™, â€˜ I have enjoyed speaking to youâ€™.
Humour and laughter spreads quickly to create an upbeat climate. Lose you sense of humour and the world becomes grey. Spread humour and colour returns. Look around you for humour and reasons to be happy. If you woke up this morning you are way ahead of those that didnâ€™t! year.