People tend to reinforce their current mood by focusing on certain things. Understand this idea in order to influence them.
Working at a hotel has its advantages. I get to see human nature at two of its most crucial points: When someone is tired and seeking rest and in the morning after they tried to get that rest.
These also happen to be the most two likely of points to see someone at their most grouchy.
You see, one of the main functions of a hotel is to be a home away from home. We try to make it comfortable, controllable, and accessible. Each person has a particular routine that they perform at home, and when they come to the hotel, they expect to be able to perform that routine, to a certain extent at least.
That’s why the amenities are so important to the customers. They are looking for a place that fits them, that allows them to get through that routine with the least amount of trouble. That is what they are paying for.
And when things don’t go well for the customer, they tend to snowball in effect.
How is it that one person can stand and wait patiently for me to refill the coffee while another refuses to wait and hastily leaves the hotel angrily?
Mood Congruity and Reinforcing Beliefs
Have you ever noticed that when you are in a bad mood you tend to do things that may realize later only helped keep you in that bad mood?
You sit in your dark room on a sunny day by yourself and play some sad Coldplay songs? You scoff at the attempt of others to try to help you because they are only in it for themselves?
This tendency is called “Mood Congruity” and it is the idea that when we are in a certain mood we tend to try to reinforce that mood by focusing on certain aspects in the environment.
Think of any activity you enjoy. Think of why you enjoy it. What aspects of it do you just love? Now think of the aspects you don’t like as much, or maybe a couple that you just hate.
Just think of something like working out:
- Good aspects. It makes me healthier. I have more energy throughout the day. I just feel better after working out. I have a better self-image from working out.
- Bad aspects. Some days I’m just too tired. It takes time out of relaxing after work. I have to get up early. Sometimes I get really sore.
According to the idea of Mood Congruity, depending on what mood you are in, you will focus on either one of those bullet points.
This idea has experimental backing. In The Handbook of Emotion and Memory by Sven-Åke Christianson, certain experiments are performed in which college students are “primed” to feel either sad or happy before being shown a few sets of pictures.
The students who were primed to feel happy were observed to spend more time looking at the pictures which depicted happy events. The group which was sad, though? They were seen to have spent more time looking at the pictures which depicted sad events: Failures, depression, etc.
The two groups looked at the pictures which reinforced their mood!
The Lessons Learned
Now that we know that people tend to try to reinforce their current mood, how can we use this information?
- Focus on improving a person’s overall experience. Doing just one thing in order to influence a certain person to have a good idea of your product of business is not enough, you need to look at the overall experience of it. Enhance their mood and then try to woo them over. Focusing on their mood first will make them more likely to not be effected when something small goes wrong.If they start out in a bad mood, however, then they will tend to focus on what is wrong about you, your company, or your product. Taking the time to put them in a good mood will pay dividends in the long run.
- Understand this idea in communication with loved ones. If you are around a person long enough, you will see their bad side. This is just an idea that we should be familiar with. As loved ones, though, we hope to help them through tough times. It is important then to see that when they are in a bad mood, we have to be careful what we say as they will initially look at it from their sour perspective.Keeping this in mind will allow you to truly help them through their tough times or through their bad moods.
- Keep in mind that you do the same thing. You also tend to focus on things that reinforce your current mood. Try to remember this when someone is trying to help you out. Even though you will have the tendency to focus on the bad, try to understand where they are coming from, and how they are trying to help you. Doing so will help save your relationship with the person.
When we experience, we do so through a lens. We have a perspective of the world based on what is going on in our mind. Sometimes this is helpful as it helps us keep positive in achieving goals.
However, sometimes it can be detrimental for ourselves and our relationships. Remembering this will help to keep us from falling in this trap and getting us out of our sour moods that much quicker.