Thiagi Group

Social Virus

by . Last edit was almost 2 years ago
10 - 15 10 +
We all know how quickly the cold or flu can spread through the office, but we don't often think about how contagious our emotions can be. This exercise provides a brief simulation of how quickly both negative and positive emotions can be transmitted. One participant is selected to be the Negative Infector General and asked to infect others with a negative emotion. During the next round, you pretend to select another participant to be the Positive Infector General. At the end of the second round, participants are surprised to find out that they became more positive even though no one initiated the emotion.
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Additional info

Goal

To explore how our interactions with others can make them feel more negative or positive. To explore how positive thinking and selective perception can help spread positive emotions among the members of a group.

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Materials

    Instructions

    Flow

    Set up the first scenario. Ask the participants to stand up and close their eyes while you give the following instructions (in your own words):

    You are all gathered here for an employee social in your organization. In a moment, I will tap one of you on the shoulder. If you are the chosen one, you become the Negative Infector General. Your task is to make eye contact with three other people, one at a time, and infect them with a negative expression. You can choose any negative expression. You can frown, glare, grimace, pout, sulk, glower, or show some other negative expression that is unique to you. The rest of you, your job is to mill around the room. If someone makes eye contact with you and infects you with a negative expression, then you have to infect three others. Once infected, you should maintain the expression.

    Start the first round. While the participants still have their eyes closed, tap one of them on the shoulder to identify the Negative Infector General. Move away from this person and ask all the participants to open their eyes and begin milling around the room.

    Stop the activity. After a minute, or when a majority of the participants have been infected with negative expressions, call time.

    Identify the Negative Infector General. At the count of three, ask all the participants to point to the participant they think was the Negative Infector General, the initial person chosen to infect the group with negativity. Count “One, two, three.” Confirm (or identify) the correct person.

    Set up the second scenario. Ask the participants to close their eyes again while you give them the following instructions (in your own words):

    Let's continue with the same team at the same event as before. In a moment, one of you will be tapped on the shoulder to become the Positive Infector General. If you are the chosen one, your task is to make independent eye contact with three other people in the room and infect them with a positive expression. This may be a smile, a wink, or a positive expression unique to you. The rest of you, your job is to mill around the room. If someone makes eye contact with you and infects you with a positive expression, then your job is to infect three others. Once infected, you should maintain the positive expression.

    Start the second round. While the participants still have their eyes closed, pause for a moment, but do not tap anyone's shoulder. The participants will assume you have identified someone to be the Positive Infector General. Move to the front of the room and ask the participants all to open their eyes and begin milling around the room as before.

    Stop the activity. After a minute, or when a majority of the participants have been infected with positivity, call time.

    Identify the Positive Infector General. As before, ask all the participants to point to the person they think was the Positive Infector General, the initial person chosen to infect the group with positivity. Ask the person to identify himself or herself. Pause while the group waits in suspense. After a few moments, reveal that no one was chosen to be the Positive Infector General.

    Debriefing

    Point out that emotions can be transmitted very rapidly and often without either person realizing it.

    Explain that the group became happy because it expected to be happy.

    Ask and discuss the following types of questions:

    • Why do you think that you became infected with positivity without the need for a Positive Infector General?
    • What if we infected one person as a Negative Infector General and another as a Positive Infector General. Which emotion do you think would spread faster?
    • How does this activity relate to team meetings?
    • What can we do to set up the expectation that our teams will be happy, cooperative, productive, and positive?
    • What are we doing now that may be infecting our work with negativity? How can prevent this from happening?

    Learning Points

    Emotions are easily passed from person to person, without either party realizing what is happening.

    We have a choice to have a positive or negative outlook on everything we do, and that choice will affect others.

    Background

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