Button Pushed

Conquering Button Pushing and the People Who Set You Off

We use the term often but what IS button pushing? How many of us have said that our associates (or spouses or partners) really know how to push our buttons?

What are those buttons, and what happens when they’re pushed? And, most important, how can we make it so we don’t get triggered? No one needs the added stress.

A button is something that automatically gets you angry or upset, or causes a reaction in you that doesn’t feel good.  If I say or do something and it makes you feel badly, you have a button and I just pushed it. Here’s the key point – I didn’t create it, I only pushed it.

Button pushing is ALL ABOUT YOU – it’s very personal!

Button PushedNo one can make you feel anything – what people say and do is about them – and how you react is completely about you. It’s very important to recognize that NO ONE CAN PUSH A BUTTON THAT DOES NOT ALREADY EXIST WITHIN YOU.

Let’s take a look at a situation in which someone’s button is pushed. Jennifer, Greg, and Diane are in a meeting, having a discussion about a new procedure to be implemented in the company. During the course of the meeting, Jennifer continually interrupts Greg and Diane as soon as they begin to speak.

Greg responds by kindly but firmly telling Jennifer that he’s not finished with his thought yet. Diane doesn’t say anything for a while, eventually loses it, caustically telling Jennifer about how rude she is.

Button pushing involves reacting to the interpretation of what’s happening, not the actual event. The actual event means nothing in and of itself.

Jennifer pressed a button of Diane’s, and she reacted. Diane took Jennifer’s interruptions very personally, based on her past experiences and what she interpreted Jennifer’s actions to mean.

Maybe Diane felt that her interruptions meant that Jennifer didn’t think her opinions were of value. If at her core Diane believes that she isn’t important or worth listening to, then it’s understandable that she would strongly react based on this interpretation.

Greg, in contrast, responded objectively and appropriately because he didn’t take it personally. (But Greg, like all of us, likely has other buttons that would cause him to react in different circumstances).

So how do you learn to respond objectively instead of taking things personally and reacting emotionally?

First – stop and take a deep breath. Ask yourself some questions – am I acting appropriately? What else may really be going on here? What did I take it to mean (about me)? What is my button?

Then, knowing this, ask yourself how you would like to handle the situation should it come up again, or what you could do differently the next time.

Instead of blaming another person for pressing our buttons, be grateful for the opportunity to understand ourselves better, and for the chance to grow and learn.

Are you curious where your buttons lie? The The Energy Leadership Assessment is designed to do just that. At the end of this process you’ll know exactly what causes you to shut down or overreact and what you can do to take back control so you can choose how to respond in any given moment.

What do you think? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.