When Emotions Are High, Intelligence Is Low
This title is not a statement but a fact, have you ever wished you could take back what you said, the email you sent while in that moment of upset or anger or I can’t believe he/she did/said that? I know you have heard the term, you should sleep on it, and it will look different in the morning. Well, here’s why it will look different in the morning.
Whenyou are upset, angry or scared a part of your brain (the amygdala- where emotional memory resides) releases chemicals that shoot through your body to protect you, the flight or fight syndrome. So when this chemical gets released to protect you is gives you adrenaline to run, flight, fight or freeze. However, when the amygdala part of the brain is engaged the Neo Cortex is not and the Neo Cortex is where rational and educational thoughts come from. Why does it work this way and so what? Here’s why. The amygdala does not know if the threat is real or perceived danger so it automatically jumps to action and if you are in real danger then you do not want your rational part of the brain taking over and creating a do list or suggesting I should call a friend to discuss this danger. Danger means run, hide, protect. You know those stories of people miraculously doing things like lifting cars that weigh a ton to save someone, or cutting off their own arm to survive. This is the amygdala in charge and we call this getting hijacked! It is sudden, against your will, possibly forceful, you feel a loss of control and it is taking you someplace you weren’t planning on going and if left unaddressed it lasts 18 minutes and the chemicals released in the bloodstream can take 3-4 hours to clear.
In today’s world, with all of us in high stress mode and constantly connected to every part of our lives 24/7 we actually are engaging the amygdala more often, which over long term is not healthy and once an emotional pattern is blueprinted in the brain it is far easier to repeat over and over again.
Now, let’s bring this home to our world of being in the service industry, small business owners and entrepreneurs, managing people and in most cases highly emotional people and providing a service that physically touches other human beings. Emotional intelligence is self-awareness and motivation of managing your own emotions to have better relationships and make better decisions. Emotion comes before thought and we always feel before we think!
As a leader, your reputation is how others measure you and if your emotions are high and you get hijacked often, others may feel threatened and they can become hijacked and that can come across as feelings of put down, let down and shut down. Emotions are contagious and if you have a culture spinning out of control with others not getting along it starts with you managing your emotions. In our life today, even the little things can get us hijacked, the client that is never happy with her hair, the employee that comes in late often and everyone else is upset because they think he/she is getting away with it, or the staff meeting where every fears getting chastised even if it only happened one time before, your emotional memory will bring it to life again if it is even remotely familiar.
Here are some ways to recognize and help you deal with managing your hijacks, first your body is an early warning sign like the low fuel light going on in your car. Your body will feel increased heart rate, increase breathing and increase reflexes, decrease in working memory or your thinking brain is foggy and you have less perspective, less judgment and less self-control and you will inevitably make more errors. Being aware of your of your emotions and of others will then allow you to take steps to overcome the hijack and effectively manage others.
Finally some solutions to help you manage, we call this the S.O.S.S.
- STOP- disengage quickly, count to 10, do anything to create a pattern interrupt and engage the Neo Cortex, the thinking part of your brain.
- OXYGENATE- Breath, bring oxygen back to your brain
- SEEK INFORMATION- Ask powerful questions that matter , gain perspective, be genuine and sincere, replace certainty with curiosity
- STRENGTHEN YOUR HEART- Gratitude and appreciation, the brain cannot experience fear and gratitude at the same time, gratitude releases counter chemistry to a hijack
Here are some questions to ask yourselfwhen the situations arise to support your management awareness:
- What was the situation?
- What was your trigger?
- What was your default behavior?
- Who are the people who tend to trigger me?
- What are the situations and scenarios that tend to trigger me?
- What tends to be my “default” behaviors?
- When was the last time someone hurt me?
- When was the last time I was disappointed?
- When have I felt out of control…or without a voice?
The sooner you can manage your emotions the more aware you become of your own you then actually become better at recognizing and helping others manage theirs and this is a very good trait in being a strong and authentic leader.
Attend one of my leadership classes at the Millennium Experience this year, June 23-35, in Scottsdale AZ