Emotional Contagion

I was searching for insight into social networking behaviour and came across this TED video from Nicolas Christakis. his initial interest into widowhood lead to studying clusters of obesity and their social network effects.

I was struck by how his findings were relevant to a salesperson’s attitudinal compass. These main points were twofold.

Firstly, the reason why people network is determined by three things. The two that interested the salesman in me were Induction and Homophily. These mean that you become what your friend is, and that you hang around with people like you.

I recall blogging long ago touching on how your behaviour becomes the amalgam of the five people you spend most time with, so induction I get. I remember the horror in a pal’s eyes, a big cheese at one of the world’s premier fashion retailers, when I explained this to him over a couple of cheekies, with him joking he needed new friends.

Homophily I have also seen. Disturbingly in a negative sense. I’ve regularly attended monthly sales meetings in scores of sales operations. Those that think everything is rubbish, those that always knock every idea, say how bad the company does things, well, they always sit together. Their cancerous bile sucks away energy.

Secondly, he looked also at other things that spread. Smoking, drinking, divorce, and eventually emotions. He uncovered proof of emotional contagion at work. He saw emotional stampedes ripple through social networks.

He himself noted the profound consequences for product uptake and innovation adoption. And he wanted it to be a force to nourish the good, like ideas.

Praiseworthy indeed. As for salespeople, it’s clear that we must consider carefully the emotion were project into our networks, and also associate with people representing what we both share and aspire to be seen alongside.

Finally, it’s perhaps another reminder of the famous thinking that the most infectious thing on the planet is enthusiasm. The most destructive is a lack of it.

Subscribe to Salespodder

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.