Everyone knows someone who gets emotional, or even fears getting on a plane. The person tenses up, hands turn clammy, and they become generally irritable simply by driving to the airport. Although this person may be the pillar of common sense and practicality in any other situation, when they get on a plane they morph into a completely different person; almost a Jekyll and Hyde response.
Why is this? In most cases it’s an issue of control. When getting on a plane, they have absolutely no control since control lies with the pilots. Because their control has been taken away, an irrational response of fear, irritability and even panic is exposed.
Emotional hijacking works exactly the same way. When someone is put into a stressful situation, their brain function is actually altered, and their reaction can quickly turn from reasonable and rational to primal and reactive. Emotional hijacking is a term that anyone in the workforce needs to understand, be aware of, and act to keep under control.
Defining Emotional Hijacking
Emotional hijacking is often referred to as “amygdala hijacking” since that is essentially what happens in the brain during these times of crisis. The term amygdala hijacking was first coined in Daniel Goleman’s book, Emotional Intelligence. The amygdala is the emotional part of the brain which regulates the flight or fight response. In flight or fight, our brain senses imminent danger and blasts adrenaline into our bodies to cope with the perceived danger at hand.
During emotional hijacking, the stressors that we react to actually disable the higher cortex of the brain, preventing us from making sound, rational decisions. A person suffering from emotional hijacking may become extremely reactive, defensive and lash out at the stressor. And if that stressor is another person, things can turn negative quickly. Preventing emotional hijacking from occurring in the first place is paramount to being successful in the workplace.
There are two critical things you can do to avoid an emotional hijack. The first is to increase your emotional intelligence. The second, is to identify and proactively address your triggers.
G. Bruce Riggs serves as an executive sales coach and marketing professional located in Tulsa, OK. If your sales force or business is lacking the skills necessary to compete in today’s ever-changing marketplace – Bruce brings nearly 60,000 hours of practical sales experience and is well known for his results. Bruce also is the author of the popular book series, “I Didn’t Sign Up…” and “Coaching The Super 5%”. 918.706.1992
Contact Bruce Riggs to learn more about how we help companies improve the lives and productivity of their employees, organizations and management teams. High-performance employees are your #1 competitive advantage!