Ever have a really bad day at work and find your spouse getting crabby too? What about sharing a story to your coworkers about how you were really proud of your kids and it lightened the mood?
Recent theory and empirical support has suggested this happens through a spillover-crossover model. First, spillover occurs, then it crosses-over to others in our network.
Spillover: We bring experiences, thoughts, moods and self-perceptions from work to home and vice versa. What happens at work affects me while I’m home. What happens at home affects me at work.
Crossover: The experiences, thoughts, moods and self-perceptions that spillover from one domain to another have implication and effects on other people in our networks. So my work experiences not only affect me, but also my family members. What happens in my family affects my co-workers and boss too!
How does this happen? There are three basic ways that crossover occurs:
Taking this together, it makes a lot of sense and we can easily relate to spillover and all three types of crossover. Without much thought, we know this is true because we’ve lived it. So what’s the point? I think there are a few main take-away points and ponderings.
1. Crossover effects are stronger in close relationships. So as to avoid the weight of someone else’s world, we might be tempted to distance ourselves. However, the very act of caring, listening, and responding with empathy, has benefits for ourselves and others. Remember in close relationships, we take the god with the bad. And research suggests, helping other people (called a tend-and-befriend response) has physical and psychological benefits to our own stress response, and even longevity.
2. This should create an awareness in our own management of the boundaries between work and home. Are we “kicking the dog” for our frustrations at work? What can we do to transition from one role to becoming truly present in the other role?
3. As leaders, managers, and employees, are we aware that our actions at work have implication not only for our employees, but also for their friends and family? If we were truly cognizant of this, would it change the way we lead?