The Office HaijeckPosted on December 3, 2019
Under pressure, when we feel attacked or threatened, we change our behavior; we sometimes do or say things that we will regret later. Neuroscience shows that this is based on a physical cause. The more developed part of our brain – the prefrontal cortex – can be hacked by the more primitive and less intelligent part of the brain. This means that we are not ourselves under pressure and respond impulsively.
In his book Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman calls the Amygdala Hijack the emotional response that is direct, overwhelming, and disproportionate to a normal response. In pre-history, an amygdala Hijack increased the chance of survival when confronted with a lion, but today it leads to the opposite effect. As soon as the Amygdala Hijack takes place, dimensions such as empathy, problem solving and creativity are eliminated. And those are precisely the ones that are so important to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
Unfortunately, these moments also occur at work. The 5 most common triggers for an Office Hijack are:
- Condescending or disrespectful approach
- Unreasonable treatment
- Lack of valuation
- Feeling unheard
- Unrealistic deadlines
You may feel that you are threatened in a way that is suddenly disproportionate to what is actually happening because suddenly deadlines are set that are unrealistic in your opinion. The damage that such a Hijack causes is not inevitable. By regularly responding to our internal alarm system, we can reprogram our neurological and physical system and ensure that our response is better aligned with the current, complex world.
Tip to prevent the Office Hijack:
Change the label:
- Name your emotion and stick a label on it. You can do this very gently during a meeting and it helps immediately!
- Be aware that you can respond to someone else in different ways. And that the way you behave also influences how you feel.
- After you put a label on your negative emotion, change it and give it a positive label. For example, if you feel anxious about having a conversation with your boss. Turn it into a positive label that you feel “excited”.