Why Should Business Leaders Care about Frustrated Protestors?

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Per the emotional intelligence guru, Daniel Goleman, the emotional state of a business organization is the number one determinant of its success. Yet new discoveries in neurobiology are showing us that emotions are transmitted in surprising ways that transcend all borders. As leaders, we must become more mindful of who is setting the emotional tone of our businesses, including those sitting outside its walls.

The Reach of Emotional Energy

Emotions literally run rampant among people. Just by being in proximity of each other, without saying or doing anything, we influence each others’ emotions. Psychologists as far back as 1981 found that three strangers could sit facing each other in silence for a minute or two and the most emotionally active of the three will have transmitted his or her mood to the other two. It’s a fact that when multiple people are in the same proximity, even for relatively short timeframes, they end up sharing the same mood.

The Institute of HeartMath has found that one person’s brain waves will often automatically synchronize to another person’s heart vibrations, which reflect our emotional state. Our heart fields have been definitively measured to extend at least eight feet from our body, but researchers making this measurement openly state that the equipment used to measure the field was only capable of measuring up to eight feet. They believe that the heart field actually extends for miles beyond the physical body.

If our business organizations are in the region of strong emotions of anger and frustration, employees will be influenced. This impacts business because people in cranky, negative moods ignore opportunities and let customers slip away. Unhealthy emotional environments create fear and anxiety, which decrease creativity and mental efficiency and eventually lead to massive burnout. Yet science is showing us how challenging it can be to keep our business environments positive.

Extending the Distance

Physicists have been offering a connected view of our world for decades. Early in the 20th century, quantum mechanics clearly showed that all things in our universe, including us humans, are parts of one all-encompassing pattern of energy. It concluded that although we appear to exist independently, no parts are ever really separate from each other.

Quantum physics is bursting with experiments showing that physically separate objects still act as one. For example, many experiments have shown that two particles, in two different places, can have an unexplained relationship where one particle changes direction instantaneously when the other particle changes direction. Through experimentation it has been proven that such influences can extend over more than one hundred kilometers, and the theory is that this connectedness extends over the entire planet.

I like to think that the substance forming the connections is like water to fish. The fish live in it but it is transparent to them and they take it for granted. This substance has been shown to link material substances over any distance, so it’s logical to conclude that our human connectivity can transcend great distances. Lending credence to this idea is strong evidence that we’re all accessing a connected memory.

Invisible Borders

I’ll be candid that I’m not sure how far our emotional energy extends, but there’s no doubt that it extends beyond the borders of an office building. This highlights the need to be concerned with the emotional energy of the communities surrounding our businesses, including the protesters in the park a few blocks away and the slums across the border. The energy of angry and frustrated people is not separate from our own.

The lines between organizations, and even between nations, are invisible and incapable of impeding the flow of emotional energy. For the same reason that it’s important to keep the energy of our business organizations positive, it’s important to keep the energy of the communities around the globe positive. This shows us that the plight of people around the world is quite literally our business, and hence our responsibility.


About the Author:

Jackie Barretta is a writer, speaker and consultant helping organizations strengthen agility and performance by shaping emotional energy. She is a thought leader bringing to light the new science of group emotional energy and connecting it to business performance. She has had a 28-year award winning career as a C-level Fortune 500 executive and Big Four consulting firm professional.
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  1. Adrian Ferent  November 28, 2011

    My Evolution theory explains that 98% of people are at animal level; low level of consciousness. This theory can explain all the problems in the world.

    • Mr. Lasse  November 29, 2011

      lol… have had similar thoughts occasionally. But which side of the 98% are you on yourself according to your “theory”? 😛

  2. Jan  November 28, 2011

    Hi Jackie,
    Thank you for what you are sharing. I am very interested in this whole subject.
    One thing that I’m noticing about what is happening with Occupy around the country is how I’m feeling a lot of admiration/love for the people involved in who are sincerely speaking up for peace, and those who are leading meditations there, etc. That harmonizing type of energy from within the group is important, and I like to think it is adding more coherence to the whole, and helping prevent outbreaks of violence.

  3. Arthur Fink  December 1, 2011

    Everything Jackie said, and more!

    Business exists, we exist, in a community — and our community has been changed by the collective presence of the occupy groups. Even if it may appear that the world is the same, we’ve all come to see banks, the 1%, the elite social strata, in a new way. Business is about relationships, and the kinds of relationships we need in this new world are at least a little bit different.

  4. Glynis Ross-Munro  December 1, 2011

    My first love, before applied psychology, was history, especially economic history.

    When large groups of people feel that they are not being heard, by government or those who hold economic power, leaders often arise who create first disorder, and then a new order. History shows this. Of course, in time new powers and plutocracies develop, and new revolutions take place, but that’s the long view.

    Beyond a certain point, imbalances of power or the perception of social injustice becomes unsustainable. Add the power of internet transparency and the speed of social networking, and today’s situation is a very serious threat to both valuable brands and powerful organizations.

    There is an historically-verifiable phenomenon whereby many dislike looking at the precarious nature of their situation, until after chaos erupts, whereupon 20/20 hindsight kicks in.

    For instance, if one says that the US Congress does not deliver, it is mostly gerrymandered into a protected position, DC is awash with lobbyists, but we can pass laws that say that pizza is a vegetable, one will find broad agreement across the political spectrum. A 9% approval rating? Is that sustainable?

    Moving to business, those who compare the German investment in skills and ongoing employment (and therefore with growth) with the US business policy of cut, cut, cut are very frustrated. The Scandinavian nations have chosen similar paths to the German one, while US companies are sitting on trillions in cash. And less growth or innovation.

    Pfizer cut its research budget this year and laid off 1,100 employees. It is buying back $9 billion worth of stock with that money and other profits. It’s part of a wide pattern.

    What happens to the highly trained and talented people? Some leaders will start small businesses. Some will challenge the status quo. Some with do both. However, their parents probably won’t take Viagra, Lipitor or Celebrex. The brand is being tarnished with each new post.

    As Arthur says – we exist as a community. A community is made up of the “we” and the “I”. The Occupy movement speaks to the “we” in the most individualist culture on the planet.

    But (as Martin Luther King Jnr said) “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

  5. Mary Rose  December 1, 2011

    Jackie, thinking in terms of “change happens on the edge of chaos in terms of physics, which applies to human systems as well, it appears that Doreen’s “OCCUPY is a catalyst for our very survival” is a necessary function in under-going the social transformation so necessary today. The friction going on between those involved in the OCCUPY movement and the so-called “elites” is necessary to create the chaos pattern in which change can take place. Business, by its very nature is annoyed by the OCCUPY movement because it wants to go on with “business as usual” since it is so profitable for them. And thus, business needs the stimulation/friction created by the occupiers in order to get them to “get up and move on.” So, in essence everyone is included in the “Universal Power of The Oneness” but each one has their own distinctive and necessary role to play in order to accomplish the required action in any given situation. Which is why IMHO there is a mandatory “judge ye not” commandment involved.

  6. Jackie Barretta  December 1, 2011

    Mary & Doreen, I get the sense you’re saying the 1% plays the role of the bad guy and the 99% plays the role of the good guy. That doesn’t sound like Universal One-ness.

    The vast majority of the 1% are people who got lucky and are living the way the 99% would if they got lucky. As we understand more about consciousness, if 1% is thought of as the culprit, then the 99% become victims, and if you think you’re a victim then you are a victim.

    It’s the system that needs to be addressed, primarily beliefs about what promotes economic thriving. The fact is that when businesses place public interest and human empowerment first, they actually make more money. The problem is that not many people understand this yet. Here’s a free download of the first part of a series that shows this is true thru easy to understand science and business research http://bit.ly/s7zw2h.

    We need solutions that work for the 100%, because as you say, that’s all there is.

  7. Mary Rose  December 1, 2011

    @ Jackie – In a way what you say is true, but there has to be a big “shake up” that reconfigures the system so the percentages are more equal — the 99% have to protest and create this shake up so that there is Universal Oneness and the 1% have to acquiese to this new configuration.

    The enormity of the challenge we face today requires that instead of trying to patch our old economic system together what is required is a whole new system design — a new game plan — the old one isn’t working for the larger percentage. However, the 1% is very satisfied with this arrangement and don’t want to move out of their comfort zone. So the 99% have to wield their power in such a way as to create an upset (chaos pattern) that forces a complete rearrangement of all of our social systems.

    Remember that growth always occurs in terms of upheaval.

    You accurately write about this saying: “It’s the system that needs to be addressed, primarily beliefs about what promotes economic thriving. The fact is that when businesses place public interest and human empowerment first, they actually make more money. The problem is that not many people understand this yet. Here’s a free download of the first part of a series that shows this is true thru easy to understand science and business research http://bit.ly/s7zw2h.”

    And while it may be its the system that needs to be addressed, those that comprise 1% of the system do not want to listen or make a move. So, the 99% are by peacefully doing OCCUPYING Wall Street movements, insisting that the 1% take notice. Until the 1% is willing to listen and negotiate, nothing can happen.

    What i feel you are misconstruing is that the OCCUPY WALL STREET movement is an attack on the 1% — it is not an attack. It is peaceful movement directed toward getting the attention of the Wall Street greed gang, the perpetrators — they are the ones that are in the wrong.

  8. Doreen Agostino  December 1, 2011

    Hi Mary.

    You wrote: Until the 1% is willing to listen and negotiate, nothing can happen. May I offer another perspective?

    There is only The Oneness or One Consciousness. Consequently, every thought and feeling of every individual, influence 100% of creation.

    As the 99% awaken inside out, and Self-realize what we dislike in the 1% is also in us, we embrace dark and Light as One, which ends the illusion of duality, and liberates 100% of humanity to go home to what we truly are, which is The Oneness experiencing limitless possibilities of ItSelf through each of us.

  9. Theo Roberts  December 1, 2011

    99% of the 99% would act like the 1% if they were in the 1% and many of the 1% are very generous spirits.

  10. Dr. Katie Garnett  December 1, 2011

    Wonderful article about the Occupy Movement. As a student of quantum physics from the lay persons perspective – I am always thrilled when I see the concepts unfold in the deepest human experience. It seems as if ‘the powers that be’ (such as Congress), perhaps do not recognize change in this form – I mean true change. This has started as a world-wide movement, separate and yet within the unified field, always entangled. We are within the change of the ages now, and people we have read for years like Gregg Braden and Dr. Bruce Lipton and so many others, are paving the way for us down the information highway.

    Your thoughts are things – choose the best ones (from TUT–Mike Dooley).

    Love and blessings, Katie

  11. Deanna B  December 1, 2011

    i really enjoyed reading this article. it said a lot of things that i always suspected.

    business leaders should care about a lot more than just the emotions of the protesters. the system is broken and everyone should be collaborating to fix it.

  12. Bruce Barrett  December 6, 2011

    My experience is that successful business are always trying to balance the needs of customers, society, employees and owners. Not all stakeholders will get everything they want. Employees should expect an environment that is emotionally supportive but the employee must also come to the table with healthy emotions. Studies have shown that the most successful employees have can man accurate self-assessments, have an average ability to handle stress and have a sense of optimism. Investors expect an descent return on their capital based on their risk. Customers should expect competitive quality, utility and price and the community should expect the company to benefit society by being a good neighbor and employer. There is always an element in society that wants and expects more. From what I have seen and heard, the current protesters want and expect something that society, government and private business sector is incapable of meeting: A free ride. I don’t see how their unrealistic expectations are the obligation of business as defined in our capitalistic society. Their might be better dealt with someplace like Cuba.

    By the way, Jackie. I totally reject the idea that my emotions should be influenced by someone in a frump, setting 8 feet away.

  13. Neelesh Marik  December 6, 2011

    1% and 99% are good for a conceptual classification, but becomes dangerous if we take it too seriously at the level of identity. The ‘Us and Them’ mind-set, after all, is the bane of the earth. Until we internalize that, we’ll continue to suffer.


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