As we have seen in the last year, some illnesses are extraordinarily contagious. I’m sure you have heard stories of how communities have been impacted by outbreaks. For example, one fall day a teacher reported feeling dizzy and nauseous. Shortly after, some of her students started feeling sick as well. They were transported to the hospital by ambulance. The illness spread and parents started feeling sick too. That day, 100 people showed up to the hospital’s emergency room.
This story sounds like it could be ripped from the headlines of 2020, but it isn’t. This happened in 1998. No, there wasn’t a pandemic. As a matter of fact, extensive medical tests found that nothing was actually wrong with anyone. People were sick, but not the way you might think.
So what was the illness? Psychologists called it an extreme case of “psychogenic illness.” Psychogenic illness is the unconscious transmission of actions or emotions from one person to another. Basically it means that someone got sick because they saw somebody else get sick.
Did you feel that?
Isn’t that wild? Thoughts and emotions are contagious. In fact, they are probably the most potent contagion. Have you ever experienced this? You probably have and didn’t even notice it. Happiness, anger, and depression are all highly contagious. It is pervasive and undeniable. Psychologists have been studying this phenomenon for years. In one study, participants watched a videotape of a test subject sharing their emotions. Participants would rate the test subject’s emotions along with their own emotions. If the test subject said that he was sad, the participants would rate him based on his words. Then they would assess their own emotions. In most cases, their emotions were much more impacted by the participants non-verbal cues than their actual words.
Non-verbal communication is powerful in sales. What are you communicating when you walk into a prospect’s home? What is your posture and attitude like when you are making calls? You may not think it matters but it does. Are you leading a team? What do you communicate about the leads? What do you communicate about your clients and the areas that you work? It all transfers.
This is a powerful truth to understand. Your attitude is highly contagious. There are worse things than COVID. A virus might have done what felt like significant damage, but nothing damages lives worse than a critical spirit or a negative attitude. What are people catching from you?