Who’s pushing your buttons?

We all have them: those people, words, and actions that push our buttons and hijack our peace of mind.

When you allow that button pushing, the very best you can hope for is just a few hours of crankiness. Too often, though, reacting to the push also results in embarrassment and loss of goodwill; it can even cost you business.

Obviously, the ideal reaction is no reaction…and maintaining emotional neutrality is a lot more easily said than done when faced with a skilled button pusher.

So how do you shield your buttons – or, better yet, destroy them so they’re not even available for pushing? While I believe this can be a life-long process, here are steps you can start taking today to get going on it.


Any time I’ve ended up with both feet wedged in my mouth, it’s because I didn’t take time, between the button push and my reaction to it, to regain emotional control. Breathing is a great way to do this.

Taking just a few second to inhale and exhale gives you time for your brain to override your emotions, making it less likely you’ll say or do something regrettable.

Lock the gate ahead of time.

If you know you’re likely to encounter one of your button pushers in a particular situation, acknowledge it and remind yourself that they have no control over your emotions – unless you give that control to them.

So when you see them, use that as a visual cue to lock your mental gate to keep them out of your head.

Don’t invite them in.

A locked gate does no good if you open it for an intruder.

If you know you’re susceptible to a particular person’s button pushing, simply choose not to engage with them. If that’s not an option for some reason – for example, if it’s a family member or someone you work with daily – keep all dealings as brief as possible. You can choose not to engage further with some easy techniques:

Take advantage of the mirror they provide.

The very thing that’s SO DAMN IRRITATING in a button pusher may reflect a behavior your yourself exhibit – and are not pleased with.

So see if you can use that person/action/phrase as an opportunity for self-reflection. Perhaps you can identify an area where you’re actually getting in your own way – and once you’ve become aware of it, you can take steps to change it to something that serves you better.

If that strikes you as yet another “easier said than done” activity, I have a suggestion that can help. Check out You, Unleashed: How to Make Powerful Choices and Design the Life You Long For.

In less than an hour, this short and meaty e-book will give you a slew of actionable baby-steps you can start taking today to improve your results – and start leaving the button pushers behind.

(BTW, thanks to Eric Schmuttenmaer for posting the button in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)

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