Dritjon Gruda, Alexandros Psychogios, and SPPA Professor  Adegboyega Ojo published a review of two recent studies in the Harvard Business Review in May 2023.


Our emotional state — such as feelings of anxiety, nervousness, and apprehension — can rub off on our team negatively impact their work performance and wellbeing. This is called emotional contagion, and it’s not uncommon. Since many workplaces have transitioned to a hybrid model, it’s imperative that, as a new manager, you pay attention to how you communicate with your teams, even in virtual settings.

  • Be mindful of what you post online and how often you post. Your social media activity can impact your team anxiety, even when you aren’t physically present and even when you aren’t talking about work. Posting too much information at once may overwhelm your follows and significantly changing the frequency of when you regularly post may alarm them.
  • On messaging platforms, consider the tone and content of your words. Remember that written communication can be easily misinterpreted, so always aim for clarity and honesty.
  • Pay attention to the tone of your team member’s messages. Looking at their punctuation can be a telling indicator of anxiety. For example, when a colleague uncharacteristically starts finishing all their Slack messages with a period, it could signal that something is not quite right and that they are anxious or stressed. If you sense anxiety, address them calmly, and provide reassurance to the best of your ability.
  • Be vulnerable. As a leader, your responsibility includes providing safe workspaces in which your employees can thrive. Displaying vulnerability is one way to foster greater trust and collaboration within your team. However, share your vulnerability in a thoughtful and measured manner so as not to alarm employees or undermine your leadership

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