Have you ever just ‘lost it’? Said or done something and then wished the earth would open up and swallow you whole as you died of embarrassment? Have you heard or used phrases like: he went completely nuts; she went off her tree; I was simply dumbfounded; I was so angry I couldn’t think straight!
There is a neuro-scientific reason why these things happen. I call it ‘The Almond Effect’ ® and in this series of Clearing the Mindfield™ I am going to talk about what it is, why it happens, how it impacts us at work and at home, and how we can manage it. When we understand ‘The Almond Effect’ ®, there is a good chance we will have fewer arguments and better relationships with our managers and work colleagues and provide ‘wouldn’t go anywhere else’ service to our customers. And away from work, we won’t be caught up in road rage, queue rage, pavement rage or any other kind of rage, we’ll have fantastic relationships with our partners, our kids and our friends and we’ll live less stressed lives. Sound too good to be true?
You need to know about your amygdala – really!
Then let me introduce you to your amygdala. Amygdala is the Greek word for almond. And our amygdalae are almond shaped areas in our brains that have a lot to answer for. They keep us safe from threats to our survival but they can also get us into heaps of trouble.
You’ve almost certainly heard of the ‘flight/fight’ mechanism and probably have experienced it. For example, you’re driving along listening to the radio when out of the corner of your eye, you see a shape move onto the road in front of you. Without even thinking, you slam your foot on the brake bringing the car to a shuddering halt, only to realise a split second later, that the shape that you saw was nothing more than a shadow.
If you’d been concentrating on the road and your driving, really concentrating, you would have realised that the shape was only a shadow. But the radio station was playing one of your favourite songs, one that bought back great memories so you were driving on autopilot.
In that split second when you ‘see’ the shadow and you slam on the brakes, adrenalin shoots through your body – your heart starts to race, you get shivers down your spine and maybe the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. And then you feel embarrassed when you realise it was nothing – especially if you caused the car behind you to break suddenly too but too late to avoid the rear end of your car!
You just experienced ‘The Almond Effect’ ®.
Your almonds in action at work
Imagine you receive an email from your boss that you think is blatantly unfair. Without stopping to think about it, you draft an angry reply and hit the ‘send’ button. Moments later you regret this potentially CLM (career limiting move) and wished you’d just taken a deep breath and thought about how you would respond in a calmer manner.
Or may be you’re working in a call centre. A customer comes on the line and calls you an idiot. Your instant reaction is to shout back: “don’t you speak to me like that”, and then it’s on. The customer takes away their $1 million account, your supervisor threatens you with dismissal and it’s a thoroughly horrible experience that could have been avoided if you had been able to manage The Almond Effect ®
This series of Clearing the Mindfield™ will show you how.
Understanding The Almond Effect ® will have a profound impact in your work lives as leaders, change managers, team members and service providers. It is equally powerful for you as spouses, parents, and friends.
I’ll also share some Reaction Management strategies, i.e. how you control The Almond Effect ® when it’s triggered at the wrong time.
Understanding The Almond Effect ® will make a difference to your life both at home and at work. Whether you are already a leader, aspiring to be one, in customer service or just wanting to understand and manage your emotional reactions better, I think you’ll enjoy this series. Welcome.