I read an article today with the title Meanness is Contagious. The title is slightly misleading, the research has actually identified that emotions are contagious–any emotions. Some years back, when I left a contract job and went to the big office to say my good byes, one of the colleagues (with whom I never exchanged more than greetings) was visibly sad, and said that every day when I came in I would bring the sun. I remember being a bit gobsmacked, that I actually had an effect. Today reading this article made me wonder: Are we even more obliged to watch, which emotions we share, if we carry ugliness forward and through the day, or if we choose the sun?
Yes, everyone needs a rant, and be able to talk about things that went wrong, or others’ wrong-doing (perceived or real). This is important for mental health, for solving problems, for finding strategies against bullies. The question is then, how do we avoid that the people we spoke to, do not carry on these emotions, but enable them (as they enabled us) to carry forward positive emotions?
Furthermore, what about the people we speak about? Do we pass on these emotions to others, and will others carry these emotions forward to the people we spoke about? How can we protect ourselves from carrying forward the negativity? My former partner was very vindictive and mean, the horrible things he would say about others (including his own family)—at the time I believed these to be true—turned out to backfire. When I changed into the same workplace, and begun to meet these people, I had to make amends for having carried the ugliness on his behalf. It backfired as it exposed him to me.