Since Robin Williams’ death, there have been many social media posts from people who never met him, yet were devastated by the news. Understanding why people grieve and knowing how to help is as important in the office as it is at home.

Are you wondering why your employees (or yourself) are grieving the loss of a public figure as if they knew them?

The curse of personal branding is that you can love, hate, and grieve for people you have never met. This is especially true for people who are frequently in the public eye, such as actors, politicians, musicians, and other celebrities. Personal branding helps you feel like you know someone you’ve only had indirect contact with; you’re emotionally invested in a relationship with that person through your interaction with his or her public persona (brand).

According to neuroscience research, our brains have trouble differentiating between things we physically encounter and things we have read about, and that “reading produces a vivid simulation of reality.” Read more here.

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