For the well-mannered among us, we turn away from the person we’re talking to when the urge to sneeze strikes, covering our nose and mouth in an effort to not spread germs. Then we say, “Excuse me.” And we wash our hands repeatedly throughout the day and may have bottles of Purell placed everywhere. It’s all part of a polite exchange, proper etiquette and our conscious efforts to keep harmful things at bay.
While we’re ultra-careful not to pass along the common cold, we can be less careful, even careless, about spreading other infectious things. A prime example: Our negative thoughts.
We can all relate to having a bad day and the sense of hopelessness that accompanies it. For some reason, we feel compelled to share our misery with others. But unloading personal issues on an unsuspecting co-worker is the equivalent of sneezing in someone’s face. It starts innocently enough but can quickly pervade your work culture.
1. Your actions matter.
An office of workers who aren’t conscious of their influence on others can quickly turn into a petri dish. A teammate takes a little longer lunch break, so you do too. The water cooler talk turns to downright griping, and you get sucked in. It is all too easy to fall into the trap of being influenced for the worse by a co-worker.
The best company cultures exist when team members realize they happen to the world, the world doesn’t just happen to them. The right kind of infectious office is one where everyone understands and utilizes their influence to help alter the environment for the better.
2. Be the thermostat, not the thermometer.
The job of a thermometer is to read and reflect the current temperature, much like how people act and react in group settings. The mood in an office can be influenced, for better or worse, by the perceived leaders and has a trickle-down effect on the rest. The right thermostats in your office are the ones who set the moods and attitudes for the better, leading by example. Make sure their personalities and behaviors reflect what you want for your office, and the rest will follow suit.
3. Take care of you first.
Prior to takeoff, flight attendants instruct passengers, in the event of an emergency, to secure their own oxygen mask before assisting fellow passengers. You can do more good to help others if you personally have a healthy flow of oxygen.
Spreading attitudes works similarly. You can’t be the thermostat for a healthy office if your own thoughts are bad. Remember that your attitudes are not only contagious to others but also to you. Monitor your thoughts carefully, ensuring that you are fit to be the thermostat for others.