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Did you ever have a Manager tell you to stay away from the “poison” on the sales floor? Or maybe you heard, “Don’t allow negative people to make you negative too?” As any Sales Manager can tell you – negativity breeds negativity, and it is one of the most insidious problems with any sales team.

A guy comes to work in a bad mood, hates his life, his wife, and his job. He tells his pals how bad he feels, how horrible everything is (usually the worst being his wife and/or his Sales Manager). Suddenly, one person’s negative attitude is multiplied across eight other people. No one is selling cars and no money is being made — primarily due to the bad attitude winding through the sales force. One person that feels unhappy now makes eight other people feel unhappy. Psychologists call this phenomenon “Emotional Contagion.” 

There’s a wonderful article over at Scientific American about Emotional Contagion:

[Emotional Contagion] is a three-step process through which one person’s feelings transfer to another person.

The first stage involves nonconscious mimicry, during which individuals subtly copy one another’s nonverbal cues, including posture, facial expressions and movements. In effect, seeing my frown makes you more likely to frown.

People may then experience a feedback stage–because you frowned, you now feel sad.

During the final contagion stage, individuals share their experiences until their emotions and behaviors become synchronized. Thus, when you encounter a co-worker on a bad day, you may unknowingly pick up your colleague’s nonverbal behaviors and begin to morph into an unhappy state.

Mimicry is not all bad, however; a person can also adopt a friend or colleague’s good mood, which can help enhance their bond. (continue reading)

Salespeople and Managers need to be aware of the nonverbal ques and unconscious mimicry that occurs between groups of people. This is especially necessary when considering the sales team and the customers. If someone is going to catch a mood from us, let’s try to make it a good and happy one! ~

 

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