Exploring the Positive Spillover Effect with JoAnna Brandi

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“Happiness is not just a state of mind. It’s a state of body.” — JoAnna Brandi

I had the joy of speaking with JoAnna Brandi, the President of Return on Happiness and the creator of the Practice of Positive Leadership course. 

She is a Certified Chief Happiness Officer through the Florida International University, a keynote speaker, a workshop facilitator, and a consultant serving a diverse group of clients in small and large organizations. 

We discuss: 

  • Understanding the positive spillover effect
  • The difference between reaction and response 
  • The value of conducting an ‘Appreciation Audit” with your team

Understanding the positive spillover effect

Understanding the positive spillover effect

You know that feeling when someone walks into a room and seems to beam with positive energy and joy, so much so that you begin to feel your spirits lift as a result? That’s one example of the positive spillover effect.

“It's such an exciting concept.” JoAnna points out, “I see it in the companies that are doing everything they can to build a stimulating, enriching, positive culture, the kind of culture that the employees love being part of, and the customers love being part of.”

The kind of culture built on strengths, goodness, values, fun, and an overall elevation of its members is the standard for today’s teams and companies. That’s what people look for and what takes a company from good to great to life-changing.

“It's the kind of energy that builds up when you get a whole lot of positive people together, who are looking towards the future, who are looking towards creating things together.” JoAnna continues, “Now what happens with that energy is it spills up and outside the culture.”

Those energetic principles touch customers. According to the spillover effect, the following two or three interactions a happy customer has carry that positive energy—it spreads out. 

“When an employee goes home from this kind of a culture, they're not drained of their energy.” JoAnna shares.

The difference between reaction and response

The difference between reaction and response

Fight or flight is not a new concept—far from it!—but we’re still discovering how much those programs affect daily life. 

“You have a feeling, and it creates a chemical. And that chemical creates a different set of reactions.” JoAnna explains, “So when you're creating positive feelings, you're creating the chemicals that expand your ability to be creative and adaptable.”

Think of the last time you were in a positive mood, and maybe something stressful came out of nowhere. How did you react? 

Now think of a time when you were in a negative mindset, same scenario. How did you react that time?

You likely thought of two severely-to-moderately different reactions. The state of our emotions and the framing of our minds dictate how well we cope with unexpected—or expected—stress.  

“When people are under the influence of positive emotions, they're better able to deal with this changing landscape of business that we have, and are so much more creative.” JoAnna continues.

Tension tends to cause tunnel vision, narrowing in on one aspect of a complex situation and hindering our decision-making skills. Our brains revert to a limited function built for pure survival, not board meetings.

“When we respond, we have the ability to choose. When we react, we don't have that pause, we're allowing our brains to go back into primitive mode, we're responding from the primitive brain, as opposed to the well-developed brain that we need in today's world.” JoAnna explains.

The value of conducting an ‘Appreciation Audit” with your team

The value of conducting an ‘Appreciation Audit” with your team

Most of us have experimented with a gratitude journal or list. It’s one of the most common suggestions for cultivating mindfulness. There’s more to it than making a list before bed or first thing in the morning—there’s a use for practicing gratitude in the office, too. 

“It's not just about praise. It's looking for things that you appreciate, working with strengths, giving people opportunities.” JoAnna explains, “We do an appreciation audit. So for a couple of weeks, I have a little notepad and ask people to stop what they're doing three to five times during the day and take a moment, take a breath, think about three to five things they appreciate, and write it down.” 

JoAnna suggests habit stacking to get into this practice. If you’re looking to bring more appreciation to your team and workplace, try combining this exercise with your routine. Such as: 

  • When you refill your coffee or tea cup 
  • While getting lunch or a snack
  • Stepping outside for some fresh air

“If someone does that over a period of a week or two—because you're focusing the brain differently—you'll find more things to appreciate, and more things to talk about.” JoAnna continues.

Appreciation breeds positivity and mindfulness, which, as a result, creates a more energizing environment.  

What is something you appreciate about your work? How can you use the positive spillover effect within your daily life?

Be sure to check out JoAnna’s full episode for further insights on creating positive, energy-giving cultures, and learn more at ReturnOnHappiness.com!