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Emotional virus: How contagious are you?

It’s more likely than not that you have been infected by this highly contagious virus. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee that you have been.

Unfortunately it’s everywhere. Statistics say that most of us have been on the giving or receiving end of this virus multiple times, though we’ve called it by different names.

Every company has it, many homes have it. You’ll find it in stores, restaurants, schools and most certainly on the sports field. Anywhere that people congregate, it will be lurking. Sometimes in small numbers, but it can multiply quickly.

How is it spread?

It’s invisible, this virus. It can’t even be seen with a microscope. So how is it spread? It is usually airborne. That is, someone opens their mouth and out it spews.

There are many mutations of the virus. Gossip, snide or derogatory remarks, sarcasm, taking credit for someone else’s work, insults, yelling, blaming, shaming, sexual harassment, discrimination, bullying and backstabbing are just a few.

Sometimes it doesn’t travel by air, but can be seen in the behaviour of someone. Rejection, a raised eyebrow, a turned-down mouth, giving "the cold shoulder" or never showing appreciation can send this virus scurrying on its way to the recipient.

It can even be skulking in you. The thoughts you have about yourself, the jackal voices in your head, the second guessing, fear and uncertainty are just a few of the ways this virus can turn itself inward.

The effects of the emotional virus

This virus is extremely powerful. It can even be deadly. For the majority of us, being connected is something we value above all else. Being valued and appreciated means we are connected. Take this away and we feel alone, excluded. This is debilitating.

The emotional virus is destructive for relationships and comes at a high cost to a business. It affects a person’s energy, peace of mind, confidence and, even worse, their trust. Productivity goes down. After all, if energy and confidence have been attacked, how engaged can a person be at work?

How long can a relationship sustain itself if one side is constantly infecting the other? When trust has been whittled away? A costly and lethal situation occurs once the trust account has been depleted.

What’s the long-term prognosis?

If the emotional virus doesn’t get stopped in its tracks expect costly sick leave, divorce, broken families and broken friendships. Productivity goes down.

High turnover means a brain drain of qualified personnel. Of course, profits are lower while costs increase.

Learning is almost impossible when this virus is present. Suicide risks increase, especially amongst the young. Economies suffer. Societies suffer. The effects are far reaching.

What’s the remedy?

Personally? Zero tolerance! Anyone spreading this virus should be called on it:
 Not with anger
 Not with chastising
 Not with threats
 Not with an "eye for an eye" vengeance

If not, then with what? Compassion!

Company leaders? You must take a stand when this virus has been reported! It must not be allowed to persist.

Recognising that not everyone has developed supportive coping strategies means they may need help:
 Anger management
 Assertiveness training
 Compassionate coaching / Compassionate communication skills
 Teaching the "soft" skills which are so often the most challenging to learn

Years of conditioned behavior don’t get replaced overnight, but they can be transformed. A company that flourishes has mindful, compassionate, optimistic and sustainable leaders. These leaders create and support mindful, compassionate, optimistic and sustainable personnel and teams.

Schools and parents? You need to teach about compassion, but first you need to model it yourselves. Children need:
 To learn emotional self-regulation techniques so that they can grow into responsible, caring adults.
 To learn that they are responsible (response able) for their choices.
 To learn fair play on the sports field.
 Good role models.

We learn the blame and shame game at a young age and this is often our main coping strategy as adults.


Are you guilty of spreading this virus?

Mary Jane

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Mary Jane Roy

Mary Jane facilitates individuals and companies in learning simple, effective techniques to reduce, relieve, and release stress anywhere, anytime. She is a passionate speaker and is available for presentations, trainings,...

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