When was the last time someone in the office sneezed and you avoided them, quite literally like the plague, for a week? Studies suggest you should do the same to those who are frequently and easily anxious. Research done by Gallup research manager, Sangeeta Agrawal, and chief scientist of workplace management and well-being, Jim Harter, Ph.D., studied the connections between the well-being levels of fellow work colleagues, and between those of managers and the people they manage.

Observing 105 teams and 1,704 individuals over three six-month time periods, Agrawal and Harter found that members of the same team were more likely to have consistently similar levels of well-being than individuals from separate groups. In fact, they observed that the emotional states of fellow teammates were not only significantly connected, but also considerably dependent upon one another.

Getting Pulled into an Anxiety Culture

So, what do these observations of well-being mean for stress and anxiety? Agrawal and Harter's findings support the growing evidence that our emotions have viral characteristics. The amount of stress one may feel in isolation is limited to a person's individual temperament and personality. In a group setting, however, everything changes. In a similar study of voles, when placed in a peaceful environment, the collection of small rodents exhibited varying degrees of anxiety. When subjected to a traumatic situation, the unique emotional states of the individuals disappeared and the entire group of voles demonstrated consistent levels of stress.

Of course, anxiety disorders are serious mental illnesses that cannot be passed on from exposure alone. Simply being anxious and suffering from natural stress responses, however, are fluid feelings that don't necessarily inhibit your ability to function. That said, if the feeling of anxiety is, in fact, an emotional virus, it can be easy to get pulled into a culture that pulses with stress.

The 3 High-Stress Personality Types You Should Avoid

According to Psychology Today, there are three types of stress personalities you should try to stay away from:

1. Fragile Stressor: This person is easily flustered and irritated over the smallest challenge. Dealing with them is a lot like trying to hike while balancing an egg on a silver spoon. Being in close proximity with someone with such a high level of stress and a strong tendency towards anxiety can leave you suffering from collateral tension.

2. Empathy Stressor: When this person says that they feel your pain, they really mean it. The type to take on the stress of everyone around them, they walk around like a sponge, absorbing and giving off anxiety. Interacting with this kind of personality is a lot like watching a sad movie. Don't be surprised if you're feeling a little down or stressed out after a few quality hours with them.

3. Giving Stressor: This person is always extremely busy, so much so that they often throw their responsibilities onto other people. Also known as the "Super Delegator," spending too much time with this kind of personality can leave you handling a lot of their tasks and most of their stress.


Date of original publication:
Updated on: February 02, 2017