Magazine article Supervisory Management

Keeping Hot Buttons from Taking Control

Magazine article Supervisory Management

Keeping Hot Buttons from Taking Control

Article excerpt

We all have hot buttons - issues that cause us to lose our temper or control.

If we are to achieve our professional goals - as well as personal ones - we need to find a way to deal with our hot buttons. If we don't, we will continually be frustrated by the conflicts we experience - and no one promotes someone who can't control their cool.

When we want lasting solutions to interpersonal conflicts, there are three critical steps we need to take:

1. Stop our reactions, which means stopping our efforts to change the other person.

2. Sort out the situation and identify our personal needs.

3. Shift to a new way with others to solve the problem.


The first step in dealing with our hot buttons is to stop the chain of reaction that occurs. We think about the person or situation incessantly. We talk about the problem with anyone who is sympathetic to our cause. We develop strategies, engage in overt conflict, justify our behaviors, seek support, anticipate the person's next move, protect ourselves, make resolutions, and think about the situation at night instead of connecting with our family, relaxing, or eating supper. The goal of this obsessive behavior is to gain the upper hand and get what we want.

But we must literally stop using our personal time and energy to think about the other person and, instead, plan what we are going to do next. We must stop trying to get them to be or do what we want. This isn't easy.

Withdrawal is an enormous step. A big part of us wants - even needs - to keep the drama going. On an unconscious level, we are attracted to the conflict. That's the nature of hot buttons: They are deeply embedded in our psyches, and we resist giving them up. The idea of focusing on ourselves seems antithetical to what we are trying to achieve. After all, in our clouded state of mind, we aren't causing the problem - they are. But the truth is that the only person in the world we can change is ourselves. When we change how we feel, react, and think, we increase the likelihood that others will change also. When we change, others change.


The second step in dealing with hot buttons is sorting out all the feelings we are having.

Sorting out helps us stop seeing the problem as something "they" are doing to us and start seeing the problem as one we own. We can sort out the situation by asking ourselves these questions:

* What do I like and dislike about this situation? …

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