CWTI Trainings

Emotional Intelligence graphic
Emotional Intelligence


Emotional Hijack


Preventing emotional hijacks:

There are two aspects to emotional hijacks:


On and off switch

Emotional hijacks can be prevented.  Our brains have a built-in “off switch” that can disrupt over-reactions and pull us back into rational mode (Goleman, 1995).  The brain contains a specialized center, the prefrontal cortex, which is in charge of our ability to organize and plan tasks to reach goals.  When called into action, the prefrontal cortex acts as a damper to high emotion. It interrupts the emotional response cycle to evaluate situations for the true level of threat.  The prefrontal cortex analyzes the pros and cons of possible reactions, so that an appropriate response may be chosen. 

So, exactly how do you call the prefrontal cortex into action to prevent or manage an emotional hijack? Developing and practicing effective coping strategies, such as cooling down and challenging thoughts or others, helps "train the brain" to pause and flip the "off switch" before an emotional hijack can occur.

Emotional hijacks can happen frequently, usually with less severe outcomes than in Bob’s example.  It is important to recognize emotional hijacks in ourselves and others so we can effectively manage the situation and keep communication going. The next activity will help you think about the steps you can take to manage emotional hijacks.


Activity graphic Return to the OCFS Training Portal and complete the Emotional Hijack Activity



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