Emotional Contagion: The Key to Successful Customer Interactions




I was having a bit of a frustrating day the other day. I woke up on the wrong side of the bed…a little late. My alarm hadn’t gone off. I had only two minutes to get ready if I wanted to be there on time.

Of course I hit traffic on the way there. Groggy and discombobulated, I stumbled into work. The day would have been destined for failure if I hadn’t encountered some positive influences early on.

My co-workers were great. I had some uplifting customers early in the day. My brain was a little fuzzy for a bit longer, but soon I was in a good mood…and I woke up.

I found out that this is called emotional contagion; Amanda Enayati has a wonderful piece tackling the subject, Is your boss ruining your weekend?

Wikipedia defines emotional contagion as the tendency to catch and feel emotions that are similar to and influenced by those of others. I was inspired to write about this after reading

I have written much about the bad side of so-called emotional contagion without even knowing the term, so I was inspired by her post to write about the good side of it. With intention, we can perhaps influence someone’s mood the right way.

How many times has the sound of someone else’s laughter caused you to laugh? How many times has a smile from a stranger, or a friendly interaction with a clerk you don’t know brightened your frenzied mood? I know we can all name instances when the opposite has happened.

If you are around unhappy people, it’s going to bring you down. Every interaction with an unhappy person is going to be tainted or influenced by their mood, often unconsciously.

As a clerk myself, I can name numerous times when my own bad mood has been lifted simply because of the smile of a friend or the kindness of strangers. Interacting with positive people can help me forget myself and influence me for the better.

I’ve benefitted from genuine positive emotional contagion many times, so I’ve made a commitment to be a positive force in the emotional contagion cycle.

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22


Brooke is the author of Reptiles on Caffeine which draws from her experience working as a Starbucks barista, and she joins CMIQ to share that unique, front-line perspective. For more details on Brooke’s work and insights, visit her "Reptilian Rantings" blog.

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