Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Moods - Good and Bad - Are Contagious

Have you ever notices how moods are contagious? How you can start the day in a good mood, and it can be turned around by the moods of those around you? I notice this all the time and have tried to keep others from getting me down, but it is not always easy. Sometimes before I know it, negative comments from others have "infected" me, and I have a big old case of the bad mood. I have also noticed that bad moods are way more contagious than good moods. Maybe its because I see fewer cases of good moods, but they do seem harder to catch. Anyway... what to do about it? I read the following article at http://www.ceridian.com/ and it seemed to have some good tips...we will see if any of them work.

Working productively: Managing your moods at work
Most of us have emotional ups and downs at work. Some days we can't wait to get to work and other days we can't wait to go home. Our moods may be affected by a great variety of factors -- from the weather to a long commute to a personal issue or a conversation with a customer.
It's normal to experience different moods during the workday, but it's also important to know how to manage them. Recent studies have found that moods can have a strong effect on performance. Research has also shown that moods are contagious -- people can "catch" moods from each other. It will be easier to do your best at work if you are aware of your moods and know how to control them.

How moods affect your work Your moods may affect your work in many ways. Some of these may be obvious. If you're feeling low because of a problem at home, you may find it harder to get started on a challenging project. If you're overjoyed by a great performance evaluation, you may be able to accomplish even more than usual.

Your moods can also affect your work in more subtle ways, according to a recent study by Nancy Rothbard at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Steffanie Wilk at the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University. They found that:
The mood we bring to work has more effect on our performance than on mood changes caused by events in the workplace.

Both positive and negative moods can affect your performance, but positive moods are more powerful.

If you deal with customers or clients, their moods may affect your moods. All of this means that while you need to be aware of your moods all day long, it's especially important to start work in a good mood or a positive frame of mind. Why does this matter so much? A possible explanation is that your mood at the beginning of the day carries over into events that occur later and affects how you cope with them.

Managing your moods during the day The key to managing your moods during the day is to balance the "up" and "down" times. Your overall sense of well-being is determined partly by factors you can't control, including your genes and family background. So it's unrealistic to try never to have a bad mood or to stay in an upbeat mood every minute of the day. You don't have to avoid all unpleasant feelings to be happy. Just don't allow them to crowd out all the good feelings.

Be aware of and keep track of your moods. Pay attention to your moods at different times of the day and in different situations and how, if at all, they affect your work. Get feedback if you aren't sure about this. Ask a coworker you trust how your moods come across. You might also keep a notebook of your moods. Write down your four or five most noticeable mood changes during the day. This can help you identify the situations or times of day that are most challenging for you, so you can figure out how to control them.

Acknowledge your bad moods and don't allow them to affect others. Avoid blaming others for your moods. Even if you're in a bad mood, be courteous and businesslike with coworkers and customers.

Set boundaries. Take steps to avoid "catching" the bad moods of chronic complainers. Have a polite exit strategy you can use when someone starts to gripe.

Make the most of your lunch break. Whenever possible, take your lunch break. Try to make time to eat away from your work area, in a lunch area with coworkers you enjoy. Try to keep lunch time topics light and upbeat.

Connect with positive people throughout the day. Being around upbeat people makes us feel good. When we're with upbeat, optimistic people, we don't just relax mentally -- we relax physically, too.

Limit how long you hold on to a negative emotion. Daniel Goleman writes in "Emotional Intelligence" that we may not have control over when we're swept by an emotion, nor what the emotion will be. But we can control how long an emotion will last. Sometimes we need to take an active role to send the emotion away. Consider giving yourself a "two-minute warning" when a mood has gone on for too long. Give yourself two minutes more to think about the subject, then move on to something else.

Learn relaxation techniques you can do at work. Physical tension can prolong a bad mood. Keep your posture and gestures relaxed. Avoid crossing your arms or legs or clenching your fists. Try deep breathing or muscle-relaxation techniques. If your moods are caused by mental stress, you may benefit from visualization techniques, such as looking at a pleasant picture or envisioning yourself in a setting that makes you feel good.

Talk with a doctor if your moods are severe or frequent enough to affect your work. Mood swings can result from some illnesses, medications and normal biological changes. You may have a health concern that needs attention if your moods seem to be worse or last longer than other people's. If your doctor can't find a medical reason for your mood swings, you may be experiencing depression and could benefit from talking with a professional.

Most of us can't avoid occasional bad moods. You may not always be able to prevent them from occurring, but you can control how you respond to them. You can keep your moods from affecting your performance, and your overall sense of well-being, by being aware of your moods and how to manage them.

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