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Embracing the Power of Positivity

How to expand the good vibes in your company while containing the negative ones.

Have you ever felt your mood change just by someone walking into a room? Charismatic personalities have the ability to supercharge those around them with positive energy while negative Nellies can have the exact opposite effect. Why is that? According to the book Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, MD, it’s because of a phenomenon called “limbic resonance.”

Spreading Positivity
Illustration by Sean Gladwell/Getty Images

What the heck is limbic resonance? According to Wikipedia, it’s the belief “that our brain chemistry and nervous systems are measurably affected by those closest to us.” It’s why we travel huge distances to attend trade shows (as I write this, I’m flying to Las Vegas for the ProSource Spring Summit) vs. participating virtually. We are programmed to seek out others and harmonize with them. Positive people infect others with their positivity while the same is true of pessimists, narcissists, and all other members of the toxic personality family.

If you wake up on the wrong side of the bed and decide it’s going to be a bad day, guess what? It’s a bad day. I’m sure you’ve experienced this more times than you care to admit. It’s easier to give in to the power of the dark side vs. choosing a positive frame of mind each day. If we know that our own mood affects others, don’t we owe it to those around us to preserve and enhance whatever moods we encounter? If we were sick, wouldn’t we stay home so we won’t infect others around us? Why shouldn’t the same be true of feeling low or being in “dark mode”?

Also by Henry Clifford: Chasing Perfection

Understanding the impact of your mood on others through limbic resonance can make for better personal, familial, and workplace interactions. At my custom installation company, Livewire, we have a policy that if you’re feeling dark, that’s the same as being sick and you should take time off until you feel better. That’s not to say we don’t want people to be real with each other, but we have to balance our individual feelings with making sure our cultural flame is kept burning bright. For those moments where we need to communicate negativity, we ask our employees to escalate upward vs. radiating outward. I’ve been amazed over the years at the power one negative individual can hold over large swaths of the organization. The hardest of these personalities to screen for and ultimately get rid of are called “toxic high performers.” These are the bullies or leaders who deliver results but create a horrible workplace environment.

We’ve also changed our hiring and selection processes at Livewire to try and screen for negativity and narcissism in candidates. One technique I love takes a candidate’s last three jobs and has them walk through each one. It’s amazing what people will reveal during these narratives. Common themes like disagreements with supervisors, victimization, and odd complaints or disdains emerge quickly. Livewire is a small company, and we can’t risk letting people in the door who are going to infect others with their darkness. Just like positivity spreads and infects through intentionality, negativity spreads through inertia and passivity.

Now that you understand limbic resonance and its vital role in our lives, what will you do to promote positivity in your company?

Stay frosty, and see you in the field.