What happens to the “temperature” of the room when you walk in?
Andrea shuffles into the ballroom and sits a chair or two away from the nearest attendee. Her head down, she intently scrolls through her phone for a last minute message or two. A few moments later, she looks up and we greet her with a hello and a quick introduction. She politely responds and instantly resumes her typing. At that moment, Pam enters. Picking up the presentation materials and scanning the room for her preferred seat, she chooses one four rows from the front. Warmly, she introduces herself and says, “I am so looking forward to this. I hope we have a great turnout. We really need to hear this.” Immediately, those nearby turn toward her and begin to engage in conversation. She smiles broadly and laughs easily. Maybe, she is their manager, we guess. We soon learn we are wrong. Pam is a new hire. In fact, Andrea, who remains isolated by a wide buffer of empty chairs, is her boss.
Researchers have known for some time that those who express a joyful spirit also have the most influence, be it in a boardroom or among a group of friends. It is important to note that a warm or cold demeanor is something separate from one’s extrovert or introvert personality leanings. Case in point: Some of our most encouraging participants, never say a word throughout our seminars but their body language, facial expressions and eye contact exude openness and warmth.
In a fascinating study, father of positive psychology, Dr. Martin Seligman, along with Harold Zullow examined the outcome of 10 presidential elections. With the exception of the 1968 campaign, November’s winner was the more optimistic one; even if he trailed in the polls! (see link)