Everyone has a bad day. Don’t try and say you don’t, because you will be a liar and nobody likes a liar. Regardless of the cause, every now and again you just feel like throwing it all in, walking out the door and kicking everyone along the way.

Unfortunately most rations of paid time off won’t cover days such as these, so we have to battle through our own moods at work. The question for the day is: how does your mood affect the people around you?

Some people are more or less emotionally transparent. Whatever they are feeling, everyone around them can instantly see it in how they interact and carry themselves. This is the person who smiles at everyone when they are in a good mood, but is also short and abrupt with everyone when they are stressed or frustrated. I actually prefer transparency, because it makes the relationship you have with the person more real.

There is a danger though, in wearing your emotions on your sleeve. If your mood is particularly foul, you run the risk of it spreading. We have all heard that smiling and laughter are contagious – but what people sometimes fail to realize is that so are the scowls and sharp remarks.

I call this the trickle effect of your mood. If you snap at someone, you put them in a foul mood, and they pass this on to the people they interact with and so on. There is actually a funny commercial for Comcast that I couldn’t find that exaggerates this (people in an office end up slapping each other and hitting people with monitors because the bad mood keeps escalating), but it’s really true. What happens when you put one of your employees in a crappy mood, and they in turn pass this on to one of your top clients or partners? Now you have a problem.

Some feel that the solution is to not let any real emotion show publicly – to always be upbeat and cheerful, no matter what is going on in your life or work. The problem here is that it does not take very long for people to catch on that you’re full of it. Once they realize that your mood can be fake, you lose credibility. And honestly, no one wants to work with Flanders. Your cheerfulness becomes annoying, and it can then itself put people in a bad mood.

The best thing to do is be real. But while you are real, be aware of how you are treating those around you. If you are in a bad mood, but are making an effort to be nice then your coworkers will notice this as well. They will be more inclined to help you out, and won’t take your nastiness and spread it around like chunky peanut butter. Hmm.. peanut butter.

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