The Bad Mood Contagion: How You Might be Ruining Someone’s Day

For the most part, I would consider myself a pretty laid back and easy going person. I am generally not quick to anger and I find that I typically start each day off in a good mood. That is of course not always the case. I have bad days just like any other person would, but I find that those days are mostly influenced by others. “I am a product of my environment,” I like to tell people. Simply, I let my environment, my surroundings, shape who I am at that moment in time.

If I work next to someone who is crabby and short with me, I will close up and become more quiet and reserved. Likewise, if I am having a conversation with someone who is overly energetic, I then start to talk more and show more expression. It might seem strange to some that I would let others influence me as much as I do, but this act is really more common than you might think. It’s something I like to refer to as the bad mood contagion.

Try something for me. Go to Google or your search engine of choice and type in “effects of bad moods.” I did just that in an attempt to research this very blog and was stunned at the number of articles and papers that had been published on the topic. It seems as if everyone with a blog or website has discussed the issue at one point or another. However, rather than quoting or citing any of these articles, I will try to break it down for you in my own way. Imagine that you are out with friends, or a special someone and you decide to go to a theatre and watch a movie. Typically everyone in the audience will laugh, cry or cheer at the same time. Now try to watch that same movie several months later while sitting at home alone. How often are you really laughing out loud? Are you audibly cheering for anything?

Unfortunately bad moods are not something that you can really avoid contact with (unless you live alone in a cabin deep in the woods, in which case you may have a whole different set of issues).  But we do have control over how we react to bad moods and how much we let our own moods project onto others. It’s called self-awareness. For example, if you work with the public and last night you maybe slept an hour, try not to share that bit of info with every single person you come in contact with. “Uh, I can barely stand,” or “I can’t wait for this day to be over!” No one wants to hear it. Why? Because it brings them down. Likewise, if you work in an office environment and maybe you’re having a run of bad luck, try not to constantly complain about your issues. It’s fine to share with friends, but try a more positive outlook during your conversation.

As I write this, I realize that I more than most could benefit from being a little more self-aware. As I mentioned before, we do have control over how we react to other individuals and their attitudes. If someone walks by you and doesn’t say hi, it may not have anything to do with you personally. Just because a friend is furious with a co-worker, doesn’t exactly mean that you have to hate them too. It’s one of those topics that can really be discussed at great length (that’s probably why so many have written about it), so I will stop here. But if you have any suggestions for me on how to deal with bad moods, or maybe any advice on how I can keep my own attitude in check, I would greatly appreciate it!

Also, I have listed below a few of the more interesting articles that I came across during my research.
http://www.forbes.com/2009/07/16/bad-mood-workplace-forbes-woman-leadership-solutions.html

http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/the-world/article/a-firewall-for-bad-moods-how-to-prevent-emotional-contagion-1

http://spinsucks.com/entrepreneur/your-bad-mood-is-as-contagious-as-the-common-cold/

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