Emotional Intelligence

Being an emotionally intelligent person requires us to remain poised when our stature, ego or psychological well-being is being threatened. Emotionally intelligent people are able to prevent the emotional hijacking of their brain; more specifically the part of the brain called the amygdala. When things heat up and stakes are high emotionally intelligent people prevent their emotional brain from taking control. Instead they take the necessary actions that allow their rational brain to control the situation.

EI_chartThe Emotional Brain: The amygdalae are considered your “emotional processors”. The amygdalae are almond-shaped groups of nuclei located deep and medially within the temporal lobes of the brain. The amygdala performs a primary role in the formation and storage of memories associated with emotional events. Research indicates that sensory stimuli reach the amygdalae where they form associations with memories. These memories of our emotional experiences are imprinted in the amygdala. This factor implicates the amygdala in the beginning of fear responses such as freezing, fight or escape responses.

Sensory information is directed in part to our amygdala and in part to our neo-cortex; the “thinking brain” or rational brain. If the amygdala perceives the experience as a fight, flight or freeze situation, then the amygdala hijacks the rational brain. This emotional brain activity processes information six seconds earlier than the rational brain, so if we perceive a threat, the amygdala acts before any possible direction from the neo-cortex can be received. When the amygdala perceives a threat, it can lead that person to react irrationally and destructively. If we respond to a threatening situation in a fight or flight manner, when in reality a poised and cognitively sharp response is required, the term amygdala or emotional hijacking can be used to label what is happening.

Amygdala hijacking is a term coined by Daniel Goleman to describe emotional responses from people which are immediate and overwhelming and out of measure with the actual stimulus because it has triggered a much more significant emotional threat. An amygdala hijack exhibits three signs: strong emotional reaction, sudden onset, and post-episode realization if the reaction was inappropriate.


There is an evolutionary purpose to why we are built this way. Our ancient ancestors relied on the amygdala for survival. The amygdala signaled and prepared their bodies for what was to come – fight or flight. The amygdala is responsible for signaling the release of adrenaline and direct blood to our arms and legs. This is wonderful if we are going to fight or flee, but if we need to think, we are at an extreme disadvantage.

We want to avoid our amygdala from being hijacked in business situations, unless we are truly in physical danger. In most cases, threats to our ego, psychological well-being or stature are the causes of our amygdala being hijacked. It is at these times that we need to have our wits about us. We need to be poised and calm. But if our amygdala is hijacked, blood will be rushing to our legs and arms, not our brain where we need it. Our cognitive ability is impaired to prehistoric levels.

What can you do to improve your emotional intelligence in these circumstances? First, when you are hit with sensory stimulus that poses a threat to your ego, psychological well-being or stature, wait six seconds before responding. Waiting six seconds will give your rational brain a chance to process the sensory information. During those six seconds direct your thought process to think of what you want from this situation and for yourself. These steps will help you gain your composure, to focus on what is most important in the here and now, and prepare you to have that crucial conversation.

Don NowillDr. Don Nowill, is an Adjunct Professor of Business and Leadership at Albertus Magnus College. When not teaching classes, Dr. Don uses his expertise and passion to help executives, family businesses and partners of closely held companies improve the performance and the sustainability of their companies by helping them develop productive and satisfying relationships. Don is certified in emotional intelligence assessment and coaching, as well as several other leadership assessment instruments.
Click to learn more about the unique Albertus Magnus College Leadership program and visit the nine graduate programs Albertus has to offer.

Dive in this Summer

Hi! My name is Lindsey Wiber, head lifeguard at the Albertus Magnus College Cosgrove Marcus Messer Athletic Center in New Haven, Connecticut. I have been a lifeguard here for almost two years. You can find me here Monday through Friday mornings, and around the building in the afternoons and weekends teaching future generations Lifeguard or CPR courses. I love to talk to members and try to get to know the “regulars” by name. If I do not know your name, I apologize. Please introduce yourself!Pool 2

With the dog days of summer upon us, a nice refreshing dip in the pool is a great way to cool down and get some exercise as well. The Cosgrove Marcus Messer Athletic Center features a six lane, 25 yard pool that is open year round. Come and join the “regulars” who are here before the sun gets up, also a way to beat the heat and swim before work.Pool

With an open swim section in the middle of the pool, it’s a great place to bring the kids and spend a couple of hours diving for rings, racing and just having fun. For the pool schedule and summer hours click here.

Pool 3Our friendly front desk staff of Jim, Carol and Albertus Magnus College students are always here ready and willing to help answer any questions you may have, and to offer you a smile and a laugh. Of course, once you pass the front desk and enter the pool, you will be greeted by the superb aquatics staff. This month we have a diving team in the mornings, a water polo team and a swim team in the evenings, which always makes the pool a more lively and interesting place to be.

I look forward to seeing many new and returning faces to the pool this summer season! Memberships are available to the public as well as faculty, staff and students and their families. For additional information about membership packages click here or visit AlbertusFalcons.com.

Defining Patriotism

IMG_0893Patriotism defined by the Webster Dictionary is, ‘love that people feel for their country’. As we celebrate Independence Day, we remember the men and women who serve our country and protect our freedom. Our veterans and their families deserve our appreciation for their service and our support as they transition from active military duty to their civilian lives. As an institution of higher education, Albertus is proud to provide academic rigor and a supportive environment for our veterans and their families to achieve academic success.

Albertus Magnus College strives to provide the best educational tools and faculty for all of our students. Albertus participates in the Yellow Ribbon program and has financial aid and admission staff who specialize in veteran’s benefits. For the second year in a row, Albertus Magnus College has been recognized as a 2014/15 Military Friendly School. Our student veterans play an active role in our learning community.

We invite you to take a moment to say THANK YOU to all veterans by posting a message on our student veteran Facebook page or Pinterest board.

Meet one of our student veterans:

Further reading:
FREEDOM: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

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