I’m contagious – and so are you

12 May 2011
Alison Smith, senior purchasing consultant at Future Purchasing and life-coachManagement just need to increase their level of satisfaction and the savings will come in. And no, I don’t mean satisfaction with the savings currently being achieved. I mean a manager’s level of job satisfaction has been shown to impact the bottom line. Research recently published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology showed that for each one point increase (on a scale of one to five) in a retail manager’s job satisfaction, there was 5 per cent increase in customer spending. Why? Because like yawns - emotions, mindsets and performance are all contagious. So as that manager’s job satisfaction increased, so too would that of those around them, improving their performance. Other studies from Harvard University support the findings about the ‘contagious power of thinking’ which is the title of a book published last week by Dr David Hamilton on how our thoughts can influence those around us, either positively or negatively. The biggest thing I took away from a workshop of the same name I attended at the weekend was that we’re hard-wired to copy others. Mirror neurons in our brain pick up on what others are doing and want to copy them. So if someone smiles at you, your mirror neurons will subtly copy that smile and there’s very little you can do about it. In the same way, there is very little you can do when someone passes a frown, expression of anger or fear your way – not instantly at least. The great thing about passing on an emotion such as happiness with a smile is that if the other person isn’t feeling very happy, their automatic response to copy yours will subtly impact how they’re feeling. Mindsets and performance can just as easily be passed on too - and remember, it’s not just one way. So my challenge this week is to monitor:
  • Who am I infecting?
  • Who is infecting me?
  • Whether either is helpful in achieving my objectives.
  • What changes I may need to make.
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