We all have that one colleague.
Let’s call her Sarah.
You can almost feel the energy shift when Sarah enters the room. Everyone feels a little bit more tense, a bit more on edge.
Teeth are clenched, eyes are rolled, and furtive, rushed instant messages are exchanged.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what annoys you about Sarah. It could be her laugh. The way she always manages to say the wrong thing at the wrong time.
Sometimes it’s the way she holds herself, walking around the office with an air of confidence that’s just… mind-boggling.
You’re not the only person who can’t deal with Sarah. Everyone knows there’s a “Sarah problem”, but a “Sarah problem” isn’t really something that can be fixed.
You see, Sarah is just… objectively annoying.
She has a negative “affective presence” and her very presence just annoys people.
Sarah probably isn’t aware that she has this affect on people. Sarah has probably been annoying people her whole life. Sarah thinks the problem lies with other people, not her.
Then there’s Melissa.
Melissa lights up a room when she enters it. People want to hear what Melissa has to say. They feel better about themselves just by being around Melissa.
Like Sarah, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what makes people love Melissa. It’s not that she’s always bright and bubbly, she has mood swings just like everyone else.
Maybe it’s her body language, the way she listens, her incredible ability to connect with anyone she meets.
Or maybe it’s that she’s a psychopath, and is adept at manipulating people’s feelings. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
You see, Melissa has a positive “affective presence”.
The concept of “affective presence” was first described a decade ago in a study written by Noah Eisenkraft and Hillary Anger Elfenbein and published in Psychological Science.