A whingeing workmate who constantly moans about fellow colleagues, workload or politics can pass stress to fellow workers, finds a new study. The study said anxiety and stress could spread around the workplace in the same way a cold can, the Daily Mail reported.
Professor Elaine Hatfield, a psychologist from the University of Hawaii, discovered that stress can be as contagious as a cold, and that "passive" or second-hand stress and anxiety can quickly spread around the workplace.
Prof. Hatfield's study found that we are effectively sponges, soaking up so-called emotional contagions emitted by those around us.
As we absorb other people's stress, we can begin to feel stressed too - and to focus on issues that might be troubling us.
And Professor Hatfield found that not only do we take on other people's negative thought patterns, we can also start to subconsciously take on their stressed out body language, causing us to hunch our shoulders and furrow our brows when we talk to them.
"In conversation, people automatically and continuously mimic and synchronise their movements with the facial expressions, voices, postures, movements, and instrumental behaviours of others," Professor Hatfield noted.
In doing so, people can and do "feel themselves into" the emotional landscapes others are suffering.
The study stated women are most susceptible to these so-called emotional contagions in the workplace, as they tend to be more sensitive than their male counterparts.
"Women are more at risk because they tend to be more in tune to other people's feelings," Prof. Hatfield added.