We have all had the experience. A friend whose grin appears contagious. A partner whose offensive disposition sets us in a nasty mood. There’s a name for this phenomenon – emotional contagion – and it may be challenging for mediators dealing with parties in conflict.
What is emotional contagion?
Emotional contagion is precisely what it sounds like – the practice of “grabbing” another individual’s emotions. These feelings could be positive, negative, or perhaps neutral or calm.
How does emotional contagion happen?
Emotional contagion is mostly unconscious and occurs through a process called automatic mimicry as we unconsciously often sync our nonverbal expressions together with the nonverbal expressions of others. This implies that when we see somebody frowning, our muscles nearly unconsciously mimic the frown of the individual. The human body leads the mind and feelings in this situation — our emotions lining up with all our bodily traits – and we start to really feel the spirit that our entire body is expressing.
Why does emotional contagion happen?
There are probably evolutionary advantages of psychological contagion to people. We’re highly social beings and the capacity to transmit psychological conditions by nonverbal as well as subconscious means can have a significant positive effect on the team functions on a really basic survival level. (Gesundheit! The Surprising Case of Emotional Contagion) Therefore, it might happen because it had been, at least in past, valuable to those species.
What are the challenges and benefits of emotional contagion for mediators?
The challenge for mediators in regards to psychological contagion is exactly the same as it might be for anybody in a caregiving profession such as a nurse or a therapist. We’re people, and therefore are vulnerable to psychological contagion. The problem is, when you consume negative feelings of others regularly, you might encounter a higher degree of burnout.
Among the advantages of psychological contagion for a situation is the high chances your calm or positive feelings can be infectious for the parties to the mediation. This might assist in a few ways. Your positive psychological presence in the area could assist the parties to feel positive about the prospect of creating a plan that may function for every one of these.
How do I combat the harm of emotional contagion?
Mindfulness and self-care are crucial to combat psychological contagion drawbacks. However, one study conducted by a psychologist at the University of Hawaii could give some clues regarding the best instrument that a mediator can turn to combat psychological contagion: dissociation.
In this analysis, individuals were asked to see videos of actual people speaking about the happiest and saddest times of their own lives. The folks watching the movies were to pretend they were therapists for the videotaped men and women. A few of the individuals were asked to just reflect on their “clients’” experience. Some were asked to put themselves in the customer’s shoes. The third group has been requested to listen, but stay detached. To put it differently, to envision the story and also themselves like they were an external observer.
The participants of this third group, who had listened to the stories staying detached self-reported the smallest amount of psychological contagion. They were judged to be the best therapists to its “clients”
It has two consequences for mediators. To begin with, we may most efficiently shield ourselves from burnout by embracing a “neutral” third party viewer stance toward the tales of our clients. We might likewise be seen as the most empathetic to them (significant for developing alliance ) when we embrace this position.
Emotional contagion is real and we’re all vulnerable. There are social benefits of social contagion, and it may be employed to the mediator’s benefit in promoting calm or positive feelings in parties. And, ultimately, the very best approach to fight the burnout impact of psychological contagion would be to adopt the view of an external audience when listening to parties’ stories.