Have you ever yelled at someone in traffic?

skyeteam leadership development

Have you ever said something that you didn’t mean? Have you ever yelled at a stranger? C’mon now….even in traffic? Have you ever completely lost it with someone that you care about very much? Yeah, me too.

My name is Eric, and I’m the father of two teenage girls. Ahhh, I can feel the swell of empathy and support from those out there who have either parented (or once were) teenagers. I love them unendingly, and in surprisingly predictable ways, they can push my buttons and cause me to completely ‘hijack’ very often.

What is a Hijack?

A hijack is an Emotional Intelligence concept, that explains what happens when your rational brain is superseded by a stimulus response as old as humankind itself. Let me explain what it looks like and then let’s chat a little about the science behind why this happens to everyone. If your days are like mine, your commute home is a mixture of reveling in amazing music, awesome alone time, and being ardently frustrated with every other person who thinks that they can drive a car. I’ve been known to tell a fellow commuter or two that they are #1 with admittedly the wrong gesture. By the time I get home, I’m a little worked up, and I just want to make some dinner, hang out with my family, and then go cross-eyed watchingRome, Vikings, or Game of Thrones (don’t judge).

Often times, when I turn the corner from the hallway into the kitchen, I can almost feel that there are dishes STILL in the sink. You see, the eldest child is supposed to ensure that the dishwasher is emptied, and the breakfast dishes loaded into the dishwasher when she arrives home from school…well BEFORE I arrive. Given the angst-iness of my commute, when I see that there are still dishes in the sink, I become officially primed for a hijack.

Enquiring about the situation usually evokes a response that I’ve dubbed, “the sighroll.” It’s a complex, combination maneuver that pairs the rolling of one’s eyes back into their heads with a sharp exhalation of breath. It is a common teenage girl gambit in the chess match that is a parental relationship. You see, the sighroll will cause me to go completely bonkers and totally lose my stuff. When this stimulus is received, BOOM. HIJACK! I blow up. I yell. I say dumb things. I begin doling out punishments that I have no intention of enforcing, and are not even relevant to the crime. This usually begets more sighrolling and alikely some sort of guttural utterance from the teen.

Predictably, the precious little snowflake is sent to her room, thus allowing me the space to…well, usually, to do the dishes myself (and hopefully calm down a little). What typically follows is the recall of said child so that I can apologize to her, because I feel like a complete heel. It’s a pretty sweet deal for her. Endure just a few minutes of Dad being completely off his chain, and she gets out of the dishes, and as an added bonus, dear old Dad sucks up for being a total jerkball.

Because, Science

I know what you’re thinking. “Eric, if you know this is going to happen, why don’t you choose to do something differently?” And I do, I teach our emotional intelligence workshop and everytime I work with a group I’m reminded of the science and tactics that I can apply. Like any concept, any skill, we can all get better with awraeness and practice.

Next week I’ll share the science behind the ‘fight of flight’ response, and more importantly tools and tactics that you can apply to reduce the impact of your hijack and desire to shout at strangers, or the people you know and love.