Imagine you had a great day. You are home first. You start making dinner. Maybe you whistle or play music as you putter around the kitchen contentedly preparing the food.
Your spouse comes home. They had a terrible day. They are exhausted. Maybe they are grumbly and are using short phrases. They might launch into the story of what happened. They might sulk in silence.
Have you ever found yourself in this situation? Have you ever noticed that you too become grumbly? I have.
This phenomenon is called emotional contagion. We adopt the emotions of others, and sometimes this is great. Sometimes not so great (like when your upset spouse upsets your fabulous day).
Emotional contagion works in reverse as well. Have you ever had a quick interaction with a super happy clerk, or bus driver, or toll taker? Did you find yourself just a bit happier as you went on your way? Yep. That’s emotional contagion at work again but working for good this time.
Let’s think about how emotional contagion works at conferences. We, the organizers of the conference, have been working on this event for months. The few weeks leading up to the conference have been more than jam packed. Now we are on site, and we are working 12 maybe 14 hour days preparing for the first attendees to arrive. The pressure is on. What did we forget? Will this new thing we are trying work? Everyone is asking questions. There have been a few unexpected hiccups. We may feel hurried, rushed, over-burdened, frustrated, and overwhelmed.
Now exhibitors arrive. Then pre-conference attendees. The board follows. Soon we see speakers check in and finally, attendees arrive. Everyone is looking forward to a great conference, but if the staff greets everyone in rushed-overwhelmed-frustrated mode exhibitors, speakers, and attendees may themselves feel a tinge rushed, overwhelmed, and frustrated.
One of the best things we can do is greet exhibitors, speakers, and attendees with a warm, happy welcome. Think super-friendly, chirpy, happy, glad. These folks might feel their own brand of travel frustration, weariness, or grumpiness. Help them prepare for the conference with a big, “Hi! Hello! How are you?”. Our good mood is contagious.