We may never know how far reaching something we may feel, think, say, write, or do today will affect the lives of millions tomorrow.
Have you noticed how stressed and negative many people have become lately? Did you know that you can help fix it?
Some blame the increase in negativity on their boss, some blame politicians for setting the tone, some blame the media, and some believe life is just tougher these days. Whatever the source, my hope is that with a little encouragement you will play a role in making it all better.
In fact, research says you can have a bigger impact than you may realize, as long as you understand and own your “ripple effect” at work and at home.
Research on positive emotions by Barbara Frederickson identifies how important it is to consciously use positive emotions to counter their negative counterparts. She found that due to our natural inclination to hold on to negative emotions, we really need a 3:1 ratio of positive to negative in order to have a good life. She considers the ten most common positive emotions to be joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, and love.
What’s more, research done by Sigal Barsade has proven that positive emotions spread at work. This is what I call viral engagement, and it’s the missing piece in business today. Surveys conducted by Gallup indicate that as many as 9 out of 10 employees feel powerless in their workplace. These studies show we need those positive emotions now more than ever.
It doesn’t take that much effort to start to turn this tide at work. Here are some simple ways to increase positive engagement:
- Share some good news
- Buy a coworker a cup of coffee unexpectedly
- Express gratitude for what’s going well
- Be a little more optimistic
- Help someone—with anything!
- Take more time to listen
Barsade’s conclusion is that anyone has the ability to influence the engagement of everyone in a work environment.
And your ripple effect doesn’t need to stop at work!
Research on the cascading effects of positive emotions done by Nicholas Christakis and Jim Fowler prove that our choice to simply be more positive impacts those around us in our communities. Their 20-year study tells us that if you can muster a little more optimism and happiness, the ripple effect is amazing:
- Your spouse is 8% more likely to be happy
- Your next door neighbor is 34% more likely to be happy
- Your sibling living within a mile is 14%more likely to be happy
- Your friend living within a mile is 25% more likely to be happy
But your ripple effect doesn’t stop there. Let’s call your happier friend living within a mile Sally. The study shows that because Sally is happier:
- Her friend Joe (who you don’t even know) is 10% more likely to be happy
- And Joe’s friend Bob (who Sally doesn’t know) is 6% more likely to be happy
The simple truth is we all have a ripple effect. Our ripple effect is the sum of the energy we put out to those around us, added to the energy those people put out to others. It manifests in our attitudes and actions, it’s scientifically measurable, and it’s contagious!
What ripple effect do you think you can make? Do you have a colleague who could use a dose of positivity? Who needs a complement today?
Science says we each have the ability to make a big impact at work and in our community, often with people we don’t even know.