We all have hot buttons and triggers – those little things (or sometimes big things) that just get us so upset they make our blood boil. They can often cause us to flip our lid – and they happen in both our personal lives and our professional lives. You may yell at your children, you may yell at spouse or your partner (please, we all do it), but rarely can you yell at your boss or your co-workers. I just got a flashback to the 80’s movie Nine to Five, but I digress. So, regardless of what your hot buttons may be (and trust me, figuring out what they are and why is never easy), there are some ways you can respond if they do get pushed.
- Breathe: Yes, I know we all do that anyway, but I mean really breathe. Just stop and take a few of those yoga style deep breathes. Long breaths in through the nose – hold it – out through the mouth. This is a first step in calming yourself down…really it works…even for folks as high strung as my father (it’s ok; his hot buttons won’t get pushed. He doesn’t read my online “articles”). Now I know, it’s not always possible to just stop in the middle of a conversation or conflict and close your eyes and take deep breathes, so if you need to wait until the interaction ends first, that’s fine. Just make sure before you start stewing over what just transpired that you take a moment to do this – and if you can go for a walk even better.
- Communication: I know you’re probably thinking – well of course I communicate. Yes, we all do, both verbally and non- verbally. We also all have distinctive communication styles and preferences. Our signals and queues can be interpreted differently than we intend, and we can interpret them differently from others than they may intend. That means that often our impact and our intent when communicating with one another can be a bit misaligned. One way to try and prevent that misalignment and thus your hot buttons being pushed, deal with issues when they occur. Stop the interaction, mention the hot buttons and concerns, provide feedback and ask for clarification. In short, if you feel your buttons getting pushed as someone is communicating with you, tell them. You could calmly say for example “…Excuse me (name), I’m feeling myself getting a bit upset with what you’re saying to me…” You can also raise an observation “…you know (name) I noticed that you kept rolling your eyes when I was speaking and muttering, were you aware of that? Is there something you want to chat about?” In addition, share your communications styles and preferences with others and ask them about theirs. For example, do you prefer short and sweet? Do you prefer email to phone? Do you like lots of facts or little details? I know what you may be thinking, and yes, be prepared that in some cases the other party may simply not acknowledge you at all or tell you no or they don’t care…but you’ll never know unless you try.
- Feedback: Giving and receiving feedback is imperative to making sure your hot buttons don’t get pushed, and is imperative to helping to not push others – it’s a cycle. If you want someone to know that their behaviors and actions are upsetting to you, then you need to let them know. You also need to let them know why you’re upset and how that makes you feel. Sometimes it’s as simple as saying “…I think what I hear you saying is abc, is that correct…?” or “…you know (name) when you say things like that it really makes me feel frustrated.” Or “…When I hear/see you do/say _______ it makes me feel _______ because ________.”
A few other tips to prevent your head from exploding off your shoulders…
Now, this is not to say that your hot buttons are never going to be pushed – of course they are – it’s a part of life. Hopefully with a bit more awareness around how to manage yourself in situations when they do get pushed, life may just seem a bit easier. Who knows, your relationships may even improve and your blood pressure may even drop.
About Scott Span, MSOD: is CEO & Lead Consultant of Tolero Solutions
- an Organizational Improvement & Strategy firm. He helps clients in facilitating sustainable growth by connecting and maximizing people –> performance –> profit™, creating organizations that are more responsive, productive and profitable.
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