Spreading Positive Energy by Sharing the Good News!
Have you noticed how much we’re influenced by the people around us? It’s a fascinating area of research that reveals some of the deep interactions that unexpectedly shape our moods and feelings and expectations. The people around us are constantly broadcasting their emotional status and we receive those signals at an instinctive level that often bypasses our rational faculties. It’s amazing how easily those feelings are communicated. But why does this happen to us? Why do we react so strongly to other people’s emotional signals? We’re sophisticated members of a technologically advanced civilisation. How come we’re still reacting with the same basic instincts that prevailed during the distant Stone Age?
There is no separation of mind and emotions; emotions, thinking, and learning are all linked. – Eric Jensen
It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone to realise how much we’ve adapted to function as socially-interdependent creatures. We’ve evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to favour close social connections that improve our collective chances of survival. From close family links to wider relationships that endowed us with a sensitivity to the group’s status, we learned to be aware of how others were thinking, feeling and behaving. It’s how we’re wired.
As a survival mechanism, this was obviously very useful. Imagine if there was any threat or danger in the immediate environment, one person’s reaction to the problem would be sufficient to trigger a warning reaction in the rest of the group. That’s a very useful survival mechanism that we still see in many species that enjoy the advantages of communal life.
The only way to change someone’s mind is to connect with them from the heart. – Rasheed Ogunlaru
Yet, we look in the mirror and see a thoroughly modern human staring back at us. But this perception of who we are can be deceptive. Simply because this narrow definition doesn’t recognise our ancient heritage and the behaviours that have served our species for so long. In our modern world, we might not appreciate that we’re essentially the same hunter-gatherers who roamed the open plains of Africa and spread out to inhabit the earth over hundreds of thousands of years.
Once we recognise this ancient artefact of human behaviour, we can understand the mechanics of how and why we react so easily to other people’s emotional status.
The greatest ability in business is to get along with others and influence their actions. – John Hancock
Have you ever walked into a meeting and immediately noticed how stressed and tense everyone is? We’re hard-wired to pick up these signals as a residual survival mechanism. Clearly, there must be some kind of problem. That’s why everyone’s looking so anxious. But are you witnessing evidence of a crisis? Or are you picking up the unmistakable signals that someone in the room might’ve triggered the anxiety response by accident? How can you tell?
If one person looks really worried, it’s amazing how quickly the group dynamic can shift to panic mode. It’s an automatic group reaction to the signal that there’s some kind of threat or danger looming. Strangely, it only takes one member of the group to broadcast the danger signal for everyone to pick up on the potential threat. It’s entirely possible that the problem is far less serious than the group’s reaction would suggest but it’s very useful to recognise the effects of one person silently broadcasting the panic alert!
This is another interesting aspect of the problem: you don’t have to utter a single word to communicate your feelings. Your facial expression and your body language are more than sufficient to convey the entire message that danger’s afoot.
It isn’t stress that makes us fall – it’s how we respond to stressful events. – Wayde Goodall
Once we understand this fascinating dynamic of human communication, we can take steps to neutralise or counter its effects. We know that stress and anxiety damage our ability to think and plan coherently. If there’s a crisis, we’re going to need all of our wits and creativity to deal with it. Fear and anxiety don’t help us when we need our higher brain function to analyse the situation and calculate the best way forward.
The first answer to this intriguing problem is to learn to lower your personal stress response and develop a degree of immunity from the contagion of other people’s heightened adrenaline levels. You can achieve this by relaxing your shoulders and breathing more slowly and deeply. Then, you can exercise your awareness and observe what’s happening within any group situation.
We are most dangerous when we are not conscious of our responsibility for how we behave, think and feel. – Marshall B. Rosenberg
The flow of communication, however, is not confined to moving in one direction. If you detect a crisis environment, you can choose not to join the group behaviour and remain calmly outside the circle of panic and fear. The initial advantage of this strategy is that you protect yourself from the temptation to follow the pathway of fear. You remain balanced, objective and flexible. You can bring your powers of analysis and logic to the group without submitting to their narrowly-defined panic response. That’s a huge advantage in any situation.
In addition, your calm and collected demeanour may help to diffuse the tension and encourage others to step away from crisis mode and start to work the problem from a more creative and productive perspective. Remember to smile. It’s a gesture that’s instantly recognised as a signal that the danger has passed. Lower your voice. Speak more slowly. Notice the change in the atmosphere. Focus on being centred and calm and rational. We’re social creatures. Your behaviour may provide the catalyst for a return to more appropriate behaviour. It’s an excellent opportunity for to demonstrate real leadership. Your example may be the powerful ingredient that counters the toxic atmosphere of panic and brings everyone together in a spirit of co-operation. Never underestimate the influence of your personal example of calm, self-control in a crisis.
When you react, you let others control you. When you respond, you are in control. – Bodhi Sanders
It’s a wonderful insight to consider but you probably exercise far more influence than you might appreciate. Part of that power to influence others – as well as yourself – flows from the dynamics of human interaction. We pick up on people’s cues and they inevitably pick up on ours. Let’s make a powerful commitment right now to exercise that power with care, discretion and consideration for the impact we may produce on the people around us. Let us choose to be a force for good in a world that focuses too much on the crises and problems. Find your own inner calm that sets you free from the fears and imagined problems of others.
If you aren’t the one who is controlling your own thoughts, feelings and emotions then you are one who is being controlled. – Clyde Lee Dennis