Avoid Getting Hijacked

Have you ever been hijacked?  Not carjacked.  Hijacked.  Gotten so upset you say things you don’t mean or get into a heated argument where you can’t keep your cool.  At home?  At work?

A common phrase that is used is, “Cooler heads will prevail.”

Why do people use this phrase?  Why does it seem to be true?

The truth is there is some biology behind this.  The amygdala is a gland in the brain that controls the fight or flight emotion in us.  It can trigger the fight sense that causes us to get very defensive and not listen to people.  Several things can cause the amygdala to react in a social setting.  Some triggers include being:

  • Wrong
  • Intimidated
  • Embarrassed
  • Disrespected
  • Discounted
  • Interrupted
  • Humiliated

It is important to understand these triggers in yourself so you can see them coming and head off the amygdala hijacking before it starts.  Once it starts studies have shown it takes about 18 minutes for the average person to cool back down ain order to have a reasonable discussion.

Why is this important?  Because keeping a cool head and not getting hijacked allows us as leaders to have better open and honest discussions with others in the organization or at home.

Lets face it. The hard conversations on performance and behaviors are the ones that are easy to get hijacked on.  Nobody wants to talk or hear about something they aren’t doing well.  These are times we have to prepare ourselves to not get hijacked.  Some ways to prevent a hijacking is to:

  • Know what your triggers are
  • Watch you motives, assume positive intent
  • Breathe – There are biological reason this actually works to calm a person down
  • Appreciate
  • Ask for a break if necessary and explain why

None of this is easy, but becoming good at preventing hijacks can make us better leaders and open our ears to more ways to improve.

Posted on November 2, 2011, in Culture, Development, Leadership, People and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. It is very easy to be “hijacked” when one is trying to make improvements in a company and he keeps getting pushback. The outright attitude of “We are not going to do it that way” can be frustrating. For me it is in the area of standardized work. There are so many excuses why you cannot require everyone to do a process the same way. No matter how you try to explain its importance and how it is a basis from which to make improvements, the arguments and resistance continue – and I can feel the tension and frustration rising within. I really have to watch it at that point that I don’t allow my frustration to show and to keep the discussion profitable.

  2. Well darn – I just found this AFTER I posted – so now I’ll have to go back to edit and repost – cause I’m definitely linking here from my ADD-focused WordPress blog — first article in a series on Reframing, Rewiring, Limbic System & Amygdala Hijack.

    Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, SCAC, MCC – (blogging at ADDandSoMuchMore and ADDerWorld – dot com!)

  1. Pingback: Are you OUT of your MIND? « ADD . . . and-so-much-more

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