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Thursday, June 7, 2007

Starting the Day Happy

Start with an ugly commute, and you're likely to have an ugly outlook all day. Begin with a nice breakfast with a friend, and your happiness will enhance your work performance, according to research by two professors.

"The fact that start-of-the-day mood has such a strong and consistent effect is pretty powerful," said Nancy P. Rothbard, a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Yet organizations often don't recognize its impact.

For their report, "Walking in the Door," Rothbard and Ohio State University professor Steffanie L. Wilk surveyed 29 call-center workers on their moods over three weeks. Pop-up questionnaires asked whether they felt irritable, elated or enthusiastic. They were asked at least twice a day how well they focused on their latest call. Those in bad moods handled fewer calls per hour and were less engaged in their job, while those in a good mood transferred fewer calls and took fewer breaks than grumpy workers.

Rothbard said the results were relevant to many places where workers suppress negative emotions so they don't affect customers. That drains mental resources and may reduce effectiveness. -- Vickie Elmer


© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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