Control your emotions before they control you: Beware of the Amygdala Hijack

A couple of years ago, during a training session we conducted at Shradha HRD on Managing your Emotions, a participant stood up and narrated an interesting story. He said “last week I was under a lot of pressure due to a client dead line. A team member walked into my room and insisted that he wanted to speak to me about a project he was working on. I was aware that he was working on this project but I also knew that the project did not have an immediate dead line. At any other time, I would have answered, without losing my temper. I would have possibly given him a time later in the day to speak. Instead I ended up yelling at him and saying that he had no respect for another person’s time. He should send an email and request for a time to speak, as opposed to barging in unannounced and insisting that we have a conversation”

The participant said that he felt terrible about the way he had behaved. His team member began to send him emails, every time he wanted to speak. The easy & collaborative relationship they had shared earlier morphed into a formal exchange. One unpleasant interaction created a rift, which took months to heal. His questions were:

 1.Why does this happen?

 2.How do I prevent this from happening?

We explored why this had happened. Why is it that we behave irrationally when confronted with stressful situations? You can actually “Blame it on your Genes”.On your “Amygdala” that gets hijacked.

The term “Amygdala Hijack” was coined by psychologist Daniel Goleman in his 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. Goleman used the term to recognize that although we have evolved as humans, we retain an ancient structure in our brain (Amygdala)that is designed to respond swiftly to a threat.

In other words, if we are faced with a situation that we perceive as a threat, even though it may not be life threatening, our body will react in much the same way as if we were faced with an actual physical threat to our life. This is what is responsible for us “losing it” when faced with subtler threats at the workplace.

How do we deal with such a situation?

1. Build awareness of the Amygdala hijacking

2.Watch your emotion. Tell yourself, “I’m entering the danger zone. Beware”

3.You have 3 seconds to calm yourself, before the hormones flood your brain.Practice watching your emotions. Take control, before its too late

We might have mental wiring that is “defective” & cause us to “lose it”.  Simultaneously we also have the built in capacity to control our emotions before they spin out to control.

 Controlling your emotions takes Self Awareness and Practice!!!!!!!

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Demand for emotional intelligence skills soars six-fold in response to the rise of AI and automation

I recently came across this report that Capgemini has compiled on the need for Emotional Intelligence. The research surveyed 750 executives & 1500 employees from large organizations in the Consumer Product and Retail, Retail Banking and Insurance, Automotive and Utility sectors.This need is estimated to increase by six times in the next 3-5 years, in the current environment where there is a steep growth in the use of Artificial Intelligence. However, an interesting aspect the report highlights is that organizations have currently not taken the necessary steps to adapt to this growing need.

The Key findings of the report are:

 1.  As AI and automation accelerates, emotional intelligence is becoming a must-have skill

 2.   Organizations with an emotionally intelligent workforce are reaping the benefits

 3.  People processes in organizations have not been adapted to tackle the age of the machine, especially for non-supervisory employees

Anyone that has worked with the younger Millennial population and interacted with the Centennials will vouch for the fact that this generation is far more comfortable texting, as opposed to having face to face conversations. Written texts have their ownutility, however they cannot be a substitute for face to face conversations which build real relationships. The more technology invades our lives, the greater will be the shift towards using technology to communicate and poorer will become the quality of our communication.

These finding fit into the entire Neuroscience framework as well. Whichever Neural paths are activated become our default mode for working& communicating. The greater the use of technology, the poorer will be the quality of our communication. This is bound to follow naturally, unless we take proactive action to Change.

Bridging the Emotional Intelligence gap may well be the Key to Success in the coming years !!!!!!!!

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The Fine Art of Inconveniencing People & Making Their Lives Miserable

“One can’t please everyone” – they say… and ruthless as it may sound,“the job has to get done”… It’s great to be a task-master, but eventually, it is one who has a way with words and dealing with people tactfully, who emerges the winner.

  • Consider this scenario:
  • Open office setting with multiple seating in one large hall
  • Last working day of a team member
  • Rest of the team preparing to huddle for a send-off party of sorts for a colleague, who has completed all exit formalities

One of the senior team members has been instrumental in hiring the replacement for this exiting employee, makes this statement loudly:

“Although the person who will replace you is much more competent than you, we will miss you”.

 *Pin-drop silence ensues in the hall*

It was a well-meaning comment, intended to make the exiting employee feel missed, and also to excitedly introduce the new joiner to the rest of the team. While the objective of the comment was far from making the former team-member feel miserable while bidding farewell to the organization, the effect was that the said person swore never to set foot in the office premises ever again. Not to mention the effect it had on the team members that heard the comment. A few tactful team members changed the topic quickly to shift the conversation towards friendly banter as everyone shuffled into the farewell party zone.

Blame it on a case of lack of emotional intelligence. The person that made the comment did not intend to hurt anyone but lack of self awareness and the inability to see the impact of one’s words turned a happy moment into a bitter one for all those around. If it can happen to team members, it is only a matter of time before an external customer is at the receiving end of words that are not carefully chosen and weighed before being uttered. The ramifications may not be as simple then. Instances of poor customer experiences,due to lack of empathy, spelling doom for reputed brands aboundand this is reason enough to invest in emotional intelligence sensitization for team members.

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Move Up: A Program to Promote Gender Diversity

Our client is a Fortune 100 company. They have a Global mandate to increase participation of Women at Senior Management levels. To achieve that Vision, our clients have a structured Growth Plan for their Women Managers. This program was a part of an organization wide initiative to empower Women Managers with a Growth Mindset & tools to showcase their inherent talents and Go-to Skills.

500 Women Managers at Middle and Senior Management positions have attended and benefited from this program over the last 2 years.

The Program systematically addressed the challenges that Women Managers face at the workplace. The program includes the following elements:

  1. Acknowledge Mind Conditioning & Self limiting beliefs
  2. Build Confidence to shatter the Glass ceiling
  3. Use simple tools to Network and establish a Personal Brand
  4. Create partnerships and build a support structure

The feedback from Participants was that it helped them to work on their self-limiting beliefs, incorporate behaviors that lead to Growth and above all create a strong support system to overcome hurdles and surge ahead.

Our motto at Shradha HRD is that Learning Must Continue and our clients support this vision. We successfully conducted MOVE UP over MS Teams for Women Managers across India. The training activities were tailored to keep in mind the technology and the Virtual Medium.

The Feedback for the program was, “Highly Engaging. We felt just like we were Learning in a Face to Face mode”.

We are set to continue this program series, Empowering Women Managers across India, Virtually !!!!!!

Diversity and Inclusion-TRULY


There are several organizations that Shradha HRD has partnered with in the past for programs to promote diversity, improve Gender ratios & empower women. We recently conducted a program series for a remarkable initiative at a Global Outsourcing and Consulting company. Not only does the organization have a commitment of including people with special needs that they are seriously working towards; they also have an integration program that Shradha HRD is a part of

The learning journey we conducted consisted of classroom touch points, coaching and mentoring and an ongoing action plan for the internal team to implement, post the program. We had people with visual disabilities, hearing disabilities and motor disabilities. This program was part of an initiative to help them to better integrate into the work force.

Absolutely fantastic work!!!!!!

Categorized as Media

Companies hunt for CEO’s with High EQ and Humility

Based on the statistics mentioned in this article, 70% of Organizations in India were looking for a CEO who is humble, has high EQ with good people skills.

I read an article a couple of months ago where a senior executive being considered for the position of a CEO was turned down because he was extremely rude to the driver that had come to pick him up for the job interview because he was running late.

Several companies may overlook senior leaders riding roughshod over the emotions of team members, however we see this trend changing. Slowly but surely, the value of control over one’s emotions, demonstrating emotional intelligence & being empathetic are slowly competencies that people hire for.

Way back in 2008, when Shradha HRD was conducting an intervention on Conducting appraisals for a Global Bank, it was interesting that the only thing that managers scored their team members on were hard skills. Even though there was a detailed matrix describing expected behaviors to be demonstrated, these were largely overlooked. Less than an hour in an entire year was spent talking about these competencies!!!!!!!!

Thankfully Change, ushered in by the growing Millennial population in the workforce & other factors has brought Emotional Intelligence to the forefront.

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Emotional Quotient central to promotions in Top Management roles

At Shradha HRD, when we look at programs that have had the maximum impact, we see a variety of factors. One that comes up most often is: what are the behaviors that the Organization rewards. If the organization is truly committed to rewarding Emotional Intelligence, the learning interventions have the maximum impact.

A little while ago, at Shradha HRD, we conducted a learning journey for First Time Managers at a Global HR Consulting company. The employee engagement scores showed that team members at the front line level were disengaged with their reporting managers. The intervention started with data for the Managers on how their team members perceived them. That was a little bit of an eye opener. The intervention was spread over 3 months with periodic touch points.

At the end of the year, when the Employee Engagement Survey was repeated, there was a substantial needle movement on the scores.

To my mind, what worked was the program supported by an Organizational Culture that rewarded Emotional Intelligence.

This article clearly demonstrates that Emotional Intelligence is a competency whose need is just going to grow.

Categorized as Media

Move up Program Series to Empower Women to “surge” ahead


As part of an organization wide initiative to promote Gender Diversity in Mid and Senior management, we are conducting this program series for Women Employees for a Global Consulting & Outsourcing Company.

The audience at Chennai was fabulous. The nicest parts of these programs is the feeling that emerges at the end of the program. “All of us have similar challenges and issues. Sharing best practices, building strong networks and creating a support structure is truly empowering and will help us achieve our Goals”

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Is Emotional Intelligence Key to Success at School?

While the jury for me is still out on whether there is a positive or a negative correlation between Intelligence Quotient and Emotional Quotient (there are studies that argue both sides eloquently), this article threw up an interesting insight. People that succeed are those that are able to manage their failures better than the others.

As a teenager, I saw Vinod Kambli and Sachin Tendulkar make their International debuts in 1989. While Sachin went to onto create history, Vinod did not perform to potential (his shot selection was deemed to be better than Sachin’s). Attitude was a big reason. However, awhile ago, I heard an interesting perspective from Harsha Bhogle. He said that Vinod Kambli had a flaw in his technique that bowler’s exploited. He struggled against the short pitched delivery. Till 1994, his talent had carried him. He never got over this low in his career and he played his last test match for India at 23.

Earlier as a student and now as a Leader at Shradha HRD, I have seen this theme repeated continuously. Life will bring its share of disappointment and elation. Team members that are able to maintain their equanimity through the tumultuous phases, keep their head down and work are inevitably those that end up with the promotion!!!!!!!!

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Emotionally Intelligent Leadership !!!!

“I learned a very important lesson that day. When failure occurred, the leader of the organisation owned that failure. When success came, he gave it to his team. The best management lesson I have learned did not come to me from reading a book; it came from that experience,” APJ Abdul Kalam

When I saw Mission Mangal recently, I was reminded of this quote of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. He had spoken about how his Boss, Satish Dhawan took upon himself the failure of a Mission and attributed to his team, the success of the subsequent Mission. The same incident replayed in the movie when Akshay Kumar took upon himself the failure of the Mission and gave the limelight to his team when they succeeded subsequently.

To my mind, this is Emotionally Intelligent Leadership at work. This incident had a huge impact on Dr.Kalam’s  mindand shaped his persona as a leader. He referred to this incident several times during his Presidency and subsequently too.

This is a favourite anecdote at Shradha HRD. One we quote quite often during our programs on Emotional Intelligence for Leaders. It is rare to have a leader that is secure enough to give credit to the team for successes and accept responsibility for failures himself.

That is Emotionally Intelligent Leadership !!!!

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Emotional Intelligence at work in the United Nations


In our world, we see so much around us through different media that we often become immune to messages and sometimes even cynical.

This video touched me so deeply that it brought tears to my eyes!!!!!

Bintou Keita of Guinea is currently the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations at the United Nations. This video is an excerpt of a speech she made at a forum in the United Nations. To my mind, this is one of the best examples of the importance of Listening and Understanding from the other’s point of view.

There are 2 stories she narrates in the video, which have the following take away’s

1.Even with the best intentions if we don’t Listen, we as managers & leaders can unknowingly cause harm.

2. Leadership harnesses the ability to step into the other person’s shoes and respond accordingly.

That’s Emotional Intelligence at Work!!!!!!!!!

Categorized as Media