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How To Prevent Emotional Hijacking in the Workplace?

Emotional hijacking is common in stressful environments. But, how to prevent emotional hijacking in the workplace? Let’s find out.

A bearded man representing emotional hijacking
Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Previously, we discussed the significance of emotional responses and their types. We also saw many ways through which we can express our emotions.

However, emotions are not easy to control, especially in stressful environments. Sometimes, we end up submitting ourselves to the volatile intensity of them while other times, we do not express them comfortably.

Often we do not want to react in situations where emotions are almost irrelevant. Hence, proper regulation of emotions is necessary. Moreover, we also have to deal with the stressors around us.

For instance, when you lend a car to your friend who is a novice driver, you feel tense, anxious, and nervous. However, when you see him drive, you experience an emotional upsurge, which results in sweating, palpitations, and increased heartbeat.

It leads to multiple possibilities in your mind, which prompts you to take any action or decision. Your mind works full tilt to realize the outcomes of his driving experience. Besides, your responsibility for the car adds a burden to you.

This is where you are emotionally hijacked.

That’s right, emotional hijacking. The inability to deal with stressors or stressful situations at hand triggers the hijacking process.

Let’s find out what is it and how to prevent emotional hijacking in the workplace.


You can also watch the video below by Diversitysolutions 1 to know about emotional intelligence and amygdala hijack:

Understanding Emotional Intelligence: The Amygdala Hijack

What is emotional hijacking?

Our emotions play a role in influencing the workplace environment. However, to prevent emotional hijacking, we need to first understand what it is.

The sudden emotional and personal reaction triggered due to an overwhelming situation, where a person perceives an emotional threat is called emotional hijacking.

In other words, when a person feels threatened or challenged by a certain situation, he needs to either react or respond. This is called emotional hijacking. It mostly happens when a stressful situation demands a person to think within a framework.

A woman thinking how to prevent emotional hijacking in the workplace
aPhoto by Polina Zimmerman from Pexels

It is similar to actual hijacking where you are stuck with no option but to engage in flight or fight response.

Now, let’s discuss the cause of the emotional hijacking process.


What is the cause of emotional hijacking?

In the previous section, we discussed the flight or fight response. So, here we will find how these responses are triggered, and by what means.

First, it is important to know that emotional hijacking is also called amygdala hijacking. The amygdala is a constituent of our brain which deals with emotional reactions. It is the storehouse of emotions and triggers them whenever the situation demands it. Besides, it also helps regulate our adrenaline responsible for the fight or flight response.

When our brain senses a threatening situation, it immediately triggers adrenaline to handle the perceived danger. Subsequently, the stressor can also block the higher cortex of the brain. As a result, we do not make rational and sound decisions to deal with the task at hand.

In other words, it makes us highly reactive with spontaneous negative reactions such as anger, stress, and anxiety. Moreover, if the stressor is a person or someone you know, things can get violent and unpleasant.

Therefore, it leads to an external conflict where people see a glimpse of your emotional and sensitive side.

Now, let us discuss some pretty good ways how to prevent emotional hijacking in the workplace.


How to prevent emotional hijacking in the workplace?

Emotional hijacking is the real deal responsible for a lot of problems in the workplace. Many people suffer from volatile emotional reactions when they feel threatened due to the workload or pressure.

Moreover, some people also end up losing their jobs and career prospects. It is difficult for a sensitive person to deal with these emotions as he feels intensely about everything around him.

A group of people coming together to prevent emotional hijacking in the workplace.
Photo by fauxels from Pexels

So, if you are experiencing emotional hijack in the workplace, here are five ways to prevent it from sabotaging your career.


1. Increase your emotional intelligence:

Emotional intelligence is correlated with successful dealing of emotions under challenging circumstances. Likewise, it also helps us in dealing with the emotional hijacking.

For instance, famous leaders and successful entrepreneurs do not undergo emotional hijacking due to their high emotional intelligence.

According to data from Bluewater Advisory, it was estimated that only less than 10% of the successful people have less emotional quotient while the remaining 90% have achieved success due to high EQ.

It helped them reach the pinnacle of human capabilities. They established their own business or brand value and made huge income out of their emotional experiences.


2. Gaining awareness of the situation at hand:

This one is pretty obvious.

No one wants to do a job without having any idea about it. It is necessary to be aware of the task at hand even if you have less time.

Concerning emotional hijacking, we should take responsibility for our emotional outbursts. In other words, we must find our faults and the areas that compel us to show anger, resentment, and frustration.

Identifying our blind spots of emotional reactions help us tackle the task effectively without submitting our emotions.


3. By taking charge of the task and empathizing with others:

Taking charge of the task is important. This also applies to our workplace environment. In other words, if we want to reduce stressful situations or stressors around, we must first reduce the stress ourselves. The calmer we are, the better or less stressful our environment would be.

For instance, you and your friend are willing to work on a creative task but do not understand how to approach it.

Both of you are confused and stressed concerning the task. However, if you manage to find out the source of your stress, you can calm yourself and your friend through empathy.


4. Bring a change in your environment:

If your working environement stresses you, then you should change it. Changing things that you do not need help clear your mind. Therefore, we must bring a change in our lives.

We can do this by replacing things that disturb us or trigger negative reactions and taking a stroll in a park to clear your mind. Subsequently, the neural paths which are blocked might work again to regulate emotional hijacking.


5. Be optimistic enough to turn negativity into positivity:

If you feel things around you are negative and disturb your inner peace, then try replacing it with positivity. When you are engaged in tasks that turn out to be repeatedly unsuccessful, you are stressed with negative feedback.

However, you can tackle this by learning from the previous outcomes and identifying your faults. In other words, be positive and optimistic about the task at hand.

4 ways to prevent emotional hijacking in the workplace.

Final Words:

To sum up, the emotional hijacking brings various problems with it that we need to identify to establish a healthy work environment. Besides, the regulation of the amygdala is necessary to counter spontaneous reactions.

Nevertheless, we can prevent the emotional hijacking by following the above-mentioned ways and continue with our task peacefully and effectively.

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