How We Can Influence the Moods of Others

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Young red haired female with mood disorder crying and having a headache

What many people don’t realize about moods is that they are highly contagious and that they in fact tend to spread in a similar manner to a virus.
When you spend time with someone who has a certain mood, that mood is almost guaranteed to transfer to you. And likewise, this will then transfer again through your subsequent interactions. But why is this? And what can you do to responsibly carry and pass on those moods?
Why Moods Spread
One reason that moods spread is of course because our mood colors our interactions. If you’re in a bad mood, then you’re more likely to snap at someone or even to shout at them. This is why two partners coming home from a stressful day at work are almost bound to but heads and cause escalation.
But another reason that moods spread is through our body language and our faces. Our faces can actually ‘transmit’ emotion through something known as ‘mirror neurons’. These are neurons that fire in the brain when we see someone else doing something. If someone smiles then corresponding neurons fire in our brain and we feel happier. If they fall over, we might wince with pain. This part of our brain structure likely evolved to facilitate social interactions.
More specifically, moods are likely to spread through a combination of this effect along with ‘facial feedback’. This phenomenon means that when we pull an expression, we tend to feel whatever expression we’re pulling. Force a smile and you start to feel happier! Thus, mirror neurons may actually cause us to mimic the expression of the person we’re talking to, which in turn may lead to us feeling that emotion.
What to do With This
With this in mind, it therefore becomes your responsibility to some degree to try and keep others feeling good. This is important for their sake but also has selfish benefit: people like to spend time around people that make them feel good. If you are continuously passing on positive vibes, then people like you more – it’s that simple!
So, one easy thing to do is just to smile more yourself and to make the effort to come across as happy and friendly, even if you’re feeling a little like burying your head in the sand.
Another thing to do, is to acknowledge the power of words. What happens when someone tells us something? We actually picture that event in our mind’s eye which causes brain regions to light up as though that thing were actually happening.
So, if you tell someone a happy story, that makes them feel as though something happy is happening to them.
This is why negativity is such an unpleasant trait for others. If you constantly talk about the worst things that could happen and all the things you’re afraid of, then you’ll actually end up making that person essentially live out all these worst case scenarios.
Be positive, smile and remember to spread the love, not the grumps!
Citizen Coaching and Counselling provides one to one, couples and family counselling in Birmingham from our counselling centres in Birmingham City Centre and Jewellery Quarter. We have a number of counsellors that specialise in this work who can help you through difficult times. We have appointments available seven days a week – including evenings and at weekend daytimes.