We all have them. The people who push our buttons. Who set us off just by looking at us or saying one word or even just entering the room. The colleague who never seems to take on his share of the work. The team member who seems to have a reason why she can’t be in the office on the important after-hours push. The senior leader who doesn’t seem to get it, no matter what. Sometimes it feels like the world is full of button-pushers, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

But you can do something about the button-pushers around you. It’s possible to prevent your button from being pushed, to build a buffer zone, to protect yourself. Here are a few ideas how:

  • See it differently – often we react to someone based on our ingrained view of them. But if we can open ourselves to a new perspective, we find that they’re potentially not as annoying or unresponsive or (fill-in-the-blank based on your button). It can help to ask others who seem fine with your button-pushers what they see that you don’t see. And then look for it.
  • Confront them – perhaps your button-pushers don’t realize that their behavior frustrates or annoys you. Years ago someone told me that I had no right getting mad at someone’s behavior if I hadn’t told the person what they were doing that bothered me, and what I’d rather they do instead. Chances are your button-pushers don’t know they’re annoying or downright intolerable. Tell them and see what happens.
  • But confront them nicely – even with button-pushers, you want to take the high road. To do your best to keep the relationship intact and working, at least slightly. Be nice (and specific) when you let them know what you need, and see what happens.
  • Consider the big picture – the questions we offer clients, so that they can determine whether or not to confront an issue or a person, is “how is the business suffering from this?” and “how will it help the business if I address it?” Think through what is in the best interest of the business, and take it from there.
  • Build yourself a bubble – it may seem hokey, but it can help to envision a bubble around you that no one can penetrate unless you want them to. If you have a bubble, then your buttons are hidden behind it and can’t be pushed. If you have a bubble, then you don’t have to care as much what others do.

It is possible to safeguard yourself from even the biggest button-pushers.

How do you safeguard yourself from your button-pushers?
Please leave a comment.

If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

For support in safety against button-pushers, contact Lisa at lkohn@chatsworthconsulting.com.

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