Emotions are contagious, part 3: Different types of people in your company

Emotional contagion affects different types of people in different ways. In case you missed the first two posts in the series, let’s start with a quick summary of it means that emotions are contagious. In short, emotional contagion means that if you’re around happy people, you’re likely to pick up their positivity. And if you’re around grumpy people, that’s going to rub off on you too.

I started off this series on Emotional Contagion by looking at The Importance of Taking Time to Reboot your Mood. I then looked into How positive emotional contagion can work remotely.

For part 3, I’m going to look at different types of people and how to best use them in your company.


Unsurprisingly, just as some people are more likely to get sick than others, some people are more susceptible to catching other people’s emotions than others. Some people are very strongly affected by the emotions of the people around them. Others are basically able to ignore other people and maintain their own emotional state.

Gif remake: Glass case of emotion

What’s interesting, is that people who are more susceptible to other people’s emotions are also often more in tune with the emotions of others.

… those who are most vulnerable to “catching” others’ emotions are individuals who tend to be attentive and sensitive to the emotions of others. value interrelatedness over independence and uniqueness, and those whose conscious emotional experiences are heavily influenced by peripheral feedback.

Psychology Today: Emotions Are Contagious—Choose Your Company Wisely


And as expected, some people’s emotions are more contagious than others. These people tend to express strong emotions, and draw people to them. They’re often the life of the party, and often are unaffected by the emotions of other people – especially those expressing emotions different from their own.


Putting them all together

Putting it all together, I’ve defined 4 different categories of people. There are those who are Infectious and Positive (IPs), Infectious and Negative (INs), Susceptible and Positive (SPs) and Susceptible and Negative (SNs).

When building a team, these people all bring something different to the table. Some of their talents can really complement each other, but some have the potential to be destructive. Let’s take a look.

How to maximize these character traits in your company

Infectious and Negative (IN)Infectious and Negative

Danger! Be Aware!

Make sure that you are extremely cautious of people who are highly infectious and give off negativity. These people can easily torpedo your entire company, spreading the negativity virus like a plague.

Susceptible and Negative (SN)

Hiring highly sensitive people who don’t give off strong positive emotions is great – if you can balance them with highly Infectious and Positive teammates.

They are more likely to be in tune to your customer’s needs and more sensitive to any problems that other coworkers might be having.

They need to be balanced by some strong positive energy. If not, they could get dragged down by angry customers or derailed by a colleague’s bad day. But if you’re able to team them up with some Infectious and Positive people, you could build them up to be Sensitive and Positive.

Susceptible and Positive (SP)

The best workers you could hope for. These people build up the rest of their team through unintentional osmosis. They’re also in-tune with the needs of your customers and their coworkers. They are often great at customer support and User Experience, and they make great teammates. They’re often good at sales too. They’re able to understand the needs of the customers, especially when paired with an Infectious teammate to help seal the deal.

The risk is that without other positive people around them, they can quickly transition to Sensitive and Negative. It’s very important to make sure they have a positive and happy workplace.

Infectious and Positive (IP)

These are your team leaders. They drive everyone forward, motivate the team, and inspire customers. But they often have trouble listening to customer and employee feedback when they think things are going great, even when signals are indicating otherwise.

If these leaders want to really be great, they know that they need to take advice from people who have more of a pulse of the marketplace or workplace and take that advice seriously.

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