How to avoid catching prickly emotions from other people

11 min Source: TED Talk
PME All levels


Emotions are catching, and the best way to avoid taking on negative emotions is to either learn strategies to help prevent them or to deal with them.


Being unable to keep our emotions in check can prevent us from performing at our best. In this TED Talk, Jessica Garza tells us that how well we regulate our emotions depends on how susceptible we are to a principle called Emotional Contagion—catching other people's emotions and taking them on as our own. When teaching her clients, Garza refers to this as the 'Jumping Cholla effect', named after a large shrub with needles that can burrow deep into your skin. There are two popular theories about where emotions come from:

Cognitive Appraisal, where you experience emotions in terms of evaluating whether your goals or expectations align with your current situation. 

Physiological Perception is all about the emotions we subconsciously assign to the physical changes in our body.

Our brains are hardwired to pick up subtle cues in our environment. At work, people inevitably catch feelings from one another—good and bad. Research shows two common emotion-regulation strategies can help:

Cognitive Re-appraisal, where you work to reframe how you interpret the situation to regulate your emotions. 

Acceptance, where you learn to accept a moment for what it is and not for what you want it to be.

You can use these strategies as applicable but, the key to implementing them is to become self-aware when you become emotionally triggered by a person or event—transcript available here.