their students. It is so much easier to
learn from your mistakes and move
on in a mood of curiosity. Can such a
mood be cultivated?
Moods belong not just to individuals, but to groups. Your mood is often shared with others around you.
Speakers try to read the “mood in the
room”—a sense that the audience as a
whole has an overall receptivity or hostility to what the speaker has to say.
Managers pause when their teams or
organizations have poor morale; they
know they will have trouble accomplishing their mission unless they can
instill team spirit. Marketers pitch
advertisements to their sense of the
These examples remind us that we
are constantly affected by our own
moods and the moods around us.
But we are not always aware of moods
and we do not always know how to respond to and manage them. My purpose in this column is to help you recognize moods and interact effectively
context of their individual histories.
Psychologists recognize eight basic
emotions, with each positive balanced
by a negative, as follows:
˲ Love – Hate
˲ Joy – Sadness
˲ Peace – Anger
˲ Curiosity – Fear
Each emotion has multiple shades
corresponding to different intensi-
ties of the feeling and the disposition
toward acting on the feeling. For ex-
ample, a thesaurus shows at least 40
synonyms for anger, representing dif-
ferent degrees of anger from annoy-
ance and irritation on the low end, to
chagrin in the middle, and resentment,
rage, and revenge on the high end.
You can find many quick tabulations and maps of emotions on the
Web.a Robert Roberts4 and Robert Solomon5 both give deeper, insightful accounts of emotions.
Moods are general pervasive states
of interpretation about the world. They
act as “filters” for seeing the world.
They incline toward certain emotions
and actions and away from others.
Moods and emotions are related but
are not the same. Emotions are feel-
ings that individuals experience in
response to various stimuli, in the
a Numerous Web resources tabulate and cat-
egorize emotions and moods, for example,
table 1. common workplace moods.
sees many things as gifts and is delighted and grateful
sees new possibilities and likes them.
strongly desires an outcome and is committed
to achieving it.
determined to make the outcome happen, no matter what.
does not know what is going on, and enthusiastically
welcomes the opportunity to learn more.
has a strong, perhaps overwhelming, desire to find out
what is going on.
does not know what is going on, and will keep looking
until an answer is found.
unable to make sense of what is going on.
Some emotions sustained over a period of time can be moods; for example,
joyful is a mood in which one experiences constant joy. The main features
of moods are:
˲ Social. They belong to groups as
well as individuals. In contrast, emotions are individual responses.
˲ Physical. They are accompanied by
feelings and sensations. For example,
tightness of chest when in anxiety, fatigue when in resignation, and muscle
tension when in resolution.
˲ Outlook. Interpretation is positive
(energizing), neutral, or negative (
de-energizing). The interpretation tells us
what is possible or not possible.
˲ No identifiable trigger. You find
yourself in a mood but you cannot
identify an event that put you there or
even experience the transition into the
mood. It just happens. Yet, moods are
malleable: certain conversations, as
well as music and poetry, can bring on
˲ Linguistic indicator. Your internal
and external conversations give strong
clues to moods. 2, 3
˲Cultivation. You can cultivate
moods so that you spend more time
in good ones and less in bad ones.
For example, a daily practice of expressing gratitude can cultivate a
mood of gratitude.
Table 1 lists examples of moods
commonly encountered in the workplace. The table includes sample linguistic indicators for each mood.
indifference toward the proposal and no motivation to try.
does not know what is going on, and annoyed or hostile about
the lack of knowledge.
Frustrated by the sheer volume of what is going on,
and cannot figure out what to do.
there are no possibilities for resolving the issue.
the person perceives insults or injuries and quietly
and resolutely seeks retribution; refuses to discuss.
being Wise in interactions
How does my mood interact with people I am managing? Leading? Teaming with? The answer depends on the
moods and your skill at interacting
with them. If you and the other person
are in positive moods, the interaction
is likely to go smoothly and you can
achieve the desired outcome. If you
both are in negative moods, a standoff or some sort of losing outcome is
likely. If one is positive and the other
negative, the outcome is much less
certain. Which person’s mood will
most affect the outcome? A person
skilled in working with moods may
be able to identify and then shift the
other’s mood to positive. For example,
a good manager will:
˲ Help the resigned person by initiating a conversation for possibilities.