Photo by Josh Riemer on Unsplash

Energy can be contagious.

I remember a strategy from public speaking classes and teaching: when you start presenting, match the energy in the room. If you want to change it, gradually get to the energy level you want as you present. I’m not sure if this is still considered a good strategy, but it worked for me in lethargic, post-lunch conference rooms and hyperactive middle school classrooms alike.

Recently, a friend and I were discussing our coworkers’ energy, especially the frenetic sort, and whether it affects our own. I shared that I often get swept up in others’ pace of work and apply it to my own—often to the detriment of the quality of my work. My friend said that she experiences the opposite: the fast-paced energy of her coworkers does not affect her, and in fact, she has an almost rebellious response to it and ends up procrastinating on tasks instead of trying to get them done as quickly as possible.

There must be a happy medium where you absorb just enough to motivate you to complete the tasks, but not so much that you’re clenching your jaw and delaying bio breaks.

When I catch an energy level that’s too fast to be helpful, I have to actively change my own energy to get to a rhythm where I am cool, calm, and collected. I treat myself like an audience or a classroom: I gradually bring it down to meet the level I want or need for the task.

The tricky part is recognizing when I’ve been swept up in the manic pursuit of getting shit done fast.

Do you find others’ energy to be contagious? Does it usually help you or hurt you? And how do you get yourself back to the pace where you feel most comfortable?

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