What Makes You Good Company?
Let’s face it: some people just have it way easier when it comes to relating with others. You probably know one or two persons whom people, including you, always love to be around.
On the other hand, there are certain types of individuals whose company you’d do all within your power to avoid.
Could it be that these observations are merely in your head or are they valid? What could be the reason why one person may not elicit a kind of response from others, even when another may succeed doing the same thing? Read on to learn more.
It’s all about ‘affective presence’
You are actually not odd to think that certain persons just get people to warm up to them with relative ease. Psychologists have observed this as well. They describe it as the result of “affective presence,” which they consider a part of a person’s personality that can be measured.
This concept refers to the tendency to consistently bring forth some kinds of emotions in people you interact with. It was described for the first time in research done by Noah Eisenkraft and colleagues in 2010.
In that study, evidence from dozens of workgroups showed that the emotions you feel – called trait affect – and those you draw out in others – described as trait affective presence – differ between individuals.
It was found that the emotions of a considerable number of group participants were influenced by the affective presence of their counterparts.
“To use common, everyday words, some people are just annoying. It doesn’t mean that they’re annoyed all the time,” co-author Hillary Anger Elfenbein said, according to The Atlantic. “They may be content because they’re always getting their way. Some people bring out great things in others while they’re themselves quite depressed.”
Common sense and research tell us that our mood can tell on the feelings of others around us. For instance, if you look sad and dejected, it could be hard for your loved ones to be happy.
However, the affective presence is more than that. It is the effect you have on others regardless of how you feel yourself.
Making a good company
Researchers have reported that having a positive affective presence can make you the “life of the party.”
Eisenkraft and Elfenbein found in their study that group members with positive affective presence had greater network centrality. In other words, they were considered important in their social circles. More of their colleagues thought of them as friends.
Unsurprisingly, a correlation was reported between negative affective presence and lower affability.
In different research published in the European Journal of Personality, Raul Berrios and his team found that people with positive affective presence attracted more romantic interest in a speed-dating scenario.
It has also been found that affective presence also plays a role in relationships in the workplace. Bosses who consistently make other people, including their subordinates, feel good tend to have more productive or innovative teams. Employees lower in rank feel somewhat uninhibited sharing their ideas.
Researchers do not think, however, that people who have positive affective presence are always better persons than those who don’t. It doesn’t mean they are having a life so good either.
People who consistently make people at ease, for instance, could possibly become manipulative.
The important thing, according to experts, is to regulate your emotions so that others may not be affected by or formed an impression based on them.