5 Risk Factors for Becoming Emotionally Hijacked

Before I get into this weeks post, I wanted to say a word of thanks to all my readers for taking the time to give feedback on this blog. In exchange for your feedback, you had a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card. And the WINNER is....Tim Puls!!!

Congratulations, Tim! My assistant, Brandi, has sent your gift card to your email address. Spend the money however you like! (But secretly we hope you will buy yourself a few leadership books that you have wanted to read!)

What You Told Us

If there was one thing we learned from doing this survey, it is that you want to hear more about Emotional Intelligence. By a factor of 3:1 over any other topic! Since this topic is one of my favorites, we will try and spend more time on it!  Thanks again to all of you who took the time to give us your thoughts. We really appreciate it.

2012 STOP Model Card-page-001

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is a leader's capacity to effectively recognize and manage their emotions and the emotions of others in order to enhance judgment and decision-making. According to Dr. Henry Thompson in his book The Stress Effect, "As leaders advance in role level and responsibility, emotional intelligence becomes increasingly important in determining their likelihood of success."

Emotional Intelligence begins by being aware of your emotions.

Emotions can be very valuable when they are appropriate and can be trusted. There are times and situations in our lives, however, when emotions just seem to happen.  All of a sudden, out of nowhere, we are hit with a feeling. If we are not self-aware emotions can take control of our thinking and cause us to do things that we normally would not do.

Sound familiar? Ever happen to you?

Really it isn't a matter of if this has happened to you, but when. From what is becoming some very convincing neuroscience research we know that there are certain factors that can put you at risk for your emotions taking over your thinking and potentially affecting your judgment and decision-making ability.

5 Risk Factors

The question for you to consider today is: Are there risk factors that may cause you to be subject to this emotional frailty when you otherwise would not be?

Risk factors are items that make conditions favorable for your emotions to take over.

When I was growing up in the midwest, severe thunderstorms and even tornados would happen when conditions were just right in the atmosphere. As conditions became more favorable, the storm would become more likely and potentially intense.

The same is true for your emotions. However, if you manage the conditions you become less prone to an event that could affect your thinking.

You are more at risk for your emotions taking over, and potentially even storming, if certain conditions are met.

Are there certain conditions that put you at risk for your emotions taking you to a place you otherwise would not go?

H.A.L.T.S Zone

Visiting the H.A.L.T.S. Zone will help you identify when you are at risk for becoming emotionally hijacked, whether it be in a business or personal situation. Identifying these factors early on will help you navigate potentially explosive situations and result in a healthy response.

You have entered the H.A.L.T.S. Zone when you are: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired, or Stressed.

When you are in the H.A.L.T.S. Zone, conditions are favorable for your emotions to get the best of you.

Here is how to prevent entering the H.A.L.T.S. Zone and stay more emotionally centered as a leader:

  • Hungry - Most dietitians these days recommend eating 6 small meals a day. Hint: Do not skip breakfast!
  • Angry - Anger is often the response to an unmet social need or injustice. If you find yourself feeling angry, ask yourself if this is the appropriate response for the situation. If it is not, can you replace the emotion with something less impactful such as being annoyed?
  • Lonely - We don't have to be alone to feel lonely. The feeling of being alone can bring sadness and self-pity. If you are feeling lonely, recognize it and phone a friend. Pick up the phone or go have a coffee. You need socialization to reduce your risk for a poor decision.
  • Tired - Neuroscience is showing that our brains work in 90-minute cycles whether we are awake or asleep. If you are completing a marathon work session, make sure you are taking 30-minute breaks so you can relieve the pressure on your mind. Research shows that working in 90-minute cycles increases productivity over working with no breaks.
  • Stressed - The feeling of stress, over time, can lead to utter exhaustion. When you are exhausted you are at risk for not being able to control your impulses. The feeling of temporary satisfaction is not a substitute for removing yourself from the stressor.

When you find yourself in the H.A.L.T.S. Zone, do you have any strategies that have worked for you in the past? Please post a comment and let us know.

Homework: As you move through your week, see if you have any risk factors for your emotions taking over. Can you link your emotional frailty to any of the above risk factors? If so, what will you do to avoid the risk for the sake of emotional stability?