How do negative (and positive) energies affect a workplace? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
In so many ways it will be hard to capture them here. (More in my books.) Here's a place to start: You likely already know the answer to your question. Just think about how it feels to work in an environment that doesn't feel good; maybe it feels heavy, toxic, negative, careful, unsafe, and/or exhausting. (In my experience we've all experienced this kind of environment, even if not in our workplace, elsewhere.) The cost of this is significant - it impacts people's energy, creativity, willingness to take risks, willingness to tell the truth, be vulnerable, do their best work, collaborate, and want to come to work period. It also follows them home; negative energy (and the positive, of course!) is contagious, so if I'm working in an environment that is negative, I'm likely to spread that to others when I leave my work. (Even from meeting to meeting, I'll spread it if I'm not conscious and intentional with how I manage myself.) The same is true for the opposite. If you take a workplace (or anywhere) that feels good to be in (more positive or even neutral energy), you open up space for creativity, truth-telling, people wanting to be there, do their best work, work together, have fun, and feel energized by their work.
As of the latest "State of the Workforce Report" in 2016 Gallup reports that it costs the U.S. $483B-$605B a year in lost productivity due to actively disengaged employees in the workforce. In my experience, that disengagement is often related to a lack of trust, safety, and connection in the workplace, which all ties into negative energy; what we put out there, how we make people feel, the vibe we bring - these are all playing into trust, connection, safety, etc. That all impacts productivity. Voila... Fortunately, it's addressable, it takes awareness, intention, energy, presence, and a willingness to "be author" and "be the change."
The simplest example of this is to think about one of your team meetings. If there is negative energy in that room (and it only takes ONE person to have an impact here) - that meeting is costing you money, lost opportunity, trust, connection, and the energy of your team. For example, just financially, take the cost of a single meeting you have (take the number of people in that room for the hour and multiply that by their average billable rate/cost per employee) - you now have the cost of that meeting that you just tanked. (Not to mention the lost opportunity of being in that room, the additional meetings that will have to be scheduled to get done whatever you didn't get done in the meeting originally, and the time and energy spent with the people in that meeting gossiping and complaining about it after.) This doesn't even include the low term cost on morale, connection, and trust in the organization.
Great news is that just like it only takes one person to start the negativity and bring the room down/take the meeting, it also only takes one person to bring it up. The person with the strongest intention, clearest cleanest energy, and solid helpful presence will win. We can all be a part of the solution here. If you are in a negative energy environment, you'll want to consider how you might be contributing to it ("matching" the lowest vibration in the room, complaining about it, or simply being apathetic and "that's just how it is"), and if you care to, you can lean in, "bubble up," and do even the littlest thing to help shift it. (I talk about this at length in my most recent book Contagious You and also in Contagious Culture from a full organizational perspective.)
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