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10 Super Simple Tools to Regain Control When Someone Pushes Your Buttons

10 Super Simple Tools to Regain Control When Someone Pushes Your Buttons

This is the time of year when many of us find ourselves stressed and dealing with people who push our buttons whether on purpose or by accident.

Buttons are those areas that when touched on by someone in the course of communication, make us react. Some are bigger buttons than others but everyone has them and we all need tools for handling the communication when those buttons are approached or pushed.

I have come up with 10 Super Simple Tools you can use at a moment’s notice that will put you in control of these situations when they occur. Take these tools and practice with them. Then put them into your communication tool belt and go have some fun!

1. Understand that your buttons are your buttons.

Buttons are the things (ideas or subjects) that make you react in a certain way. We all have areas of sensitivity and I am pretty sure we know what they are.

There are buttons that are yours alone and there are universal buttons. I will go over the universal buttons a bit later in this article but as for your own personal buttons, understand what they are and look at why they are there.

Perhaps you were made fun of as a kid for some personal characteristic or perhaps the person you are talking to has been hurtful in the past. Try to remain in the present rather than re-experiencing all of the old pain. Take each individual communication as something totally new. Try to understand the point of what the person is saying to you instead of simply reacting.

2. Learn to steer the conversation away from sensitive subjects or areas.

When you are in a situation where someone is heading into the danger zone for you, the smart thing to do is to steer the conversation away from the area of your sensitivity. This is a skill that you can learn and it will give you power in any conversation.

Many people can be insensitive or inadvertently push your buttons. Many times you can cope with this behavior by changing the subject. For example, if someone brings up a subject that is a sore point for you. You simply ask the person something about himself, preferably something that he is interested in. People love to talk about themselves and the communication about the sensitive area will be completely forgotten.

Here is an example of how to steer a conversation:

Let’s say Geraldine has a button on her intelligence. Let’s not even go into why she has that button, she just has it.

Now let’s say that someone makes a crack about something she has done that he feels is stupid. Geraldine knows that this person is a avid fisherman. She takes no notice of his insensitive remark and simply says, “Hey! I hear that you caught a huge fish last time you were out! Tell me about that!”

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With this one move, Geraldine has taken control of the communication  and put it on a course that is more desirable.

3. Educate the people close to you what your buttons are and find out theirs.

A very good thing to do at the beginning of any close relationships such as newlyweds or fiancés would be to sit down and go over areas that might be sensitive. Then at least, when you wade through the minefield, you know where the mines are. You are less likely to have one explode in your face. It is also good to make an agreement that you will never use these areas to intentionally hurt the other person no matter how angry you might be.

Here is another example:

Joe notices that his wife Geraldine is getting grey hair. He doesn’t realize that she has a button on getting older as she never told him about it. Joe makes a comment to Geraldine that she has a lot more grey hair than when they met. Perhaps to him it is not a big deal but it has the potential to cause Geraldine pain.

Geraldine takes a big breath and instead of calling Joe an insensitive clod, she calmly lets Joe know that she knows she is getting older and is a bit sensitive about it. Joe, if he is smart, decides that this is not an area that he will bring up unless there is something really important about it that needs to be said.

If Joe is an insensitive clod, he continues to push this button with Geraldine and the wonders why he comes home to find the locks on the house changed and all of his belongings at the end of the driveway with a note inviting him to find another place to live.

4. If something has really upset you, go somewhere quiet and regroup.

Sometimes these things take us by surprise and it can be difficult to regain our composure. The best thing to do when that occurs is to go somewhere by yourself and regroup. Do not react when you are severely upset. Wait until you have calmed down enough to figure out a good way to handle the upset.

Nothing good comes from blindly reacting from a painful place. Pain creates pain in these instances and the impulse might be to hurt that person in return. This starts a chain reaction of negativity and you always feel terrible afterward.

Breathe, dry your tears and go turn the situation around.

5. Understand that a person’s hurtful comments have nothing to do with you.

They really don’t, no matter what the other person is saying.

If the person is being nasty, that is NOTHING to do with you. It is ONLY in his or her own universe and comes from his or her own personal pain.

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The best thing you can do when this occurs is to recognize that the nasty person in front of you is not the real person. Granted there are some people who are like this all the time and are best avoided but the majority of people are just doing their best with a huge lack of workable tools to fix unhappy situations. They don’t like acting the way they do any more than you like having to deal with it.

Just look beyond the hurtful comments of these desperate people and take the opportunity to help him or her solve the problems. Get them to talk and be interested in finding out the real problem. If they are just too angry or verbally abusive, let them know that you will try to help when they calm down and then you can have a real conversation. Being able to pinpoint problems and help others to do so is a valuable skill. Those around you rightly perceive you as a valuable ally and value you.

6. Understand that certain relationships have buttons in common and need extra care and consideration.

Specifically, I am talking about the familial relationship. So many times these can get off on the wrong foot and make you both miserable. In close relationships, there is shared pain, and buttons come from pain. This pain can then create patterns of behavior that are destructive

Understand that just because patterns are set early in a relationship does not mean they have to remain that way during the relationship.

The most destructive thing you can ever do is to go back and forth pounding each other’s buttons. It accomplishes nothing but more pain and unhappiness.

When my son was little, we would clash at times. We both have extremely strong personalities and sometimes we would disagree. Whenever things started to get painful, one or the other of us would ask, “Can we just start over?”

It was perfect because it gave us the opportunity to drop the defenses and just go back to being in love with each other. Of all of the tools I had with my kids, that was the most valuable one. The result of this one tool was that we constantly broke bad habits and behavioral patterns and started afresh.

7. Recognize that another’s behavior may be the result of limiting beliefs, prejudices, opinions and generalizations.

And guess what! You don’t have to explain yourself, justify yourself or in any way prove that you are a good and decent person!

Even if you did, this person would not see it anyway because all he or she sees is his or her own limited views.

You are not responsible for someone else’s prejudices or generalizations. Let it go and move on.

At the same time, look at your own views of certain people. Are there groups of people that you have a fixed view of? If so, make a point of getting to know these people without a curtain of prejudice and you will likely find that most of them are ok.

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Many lies are told about us as groups by the media and they are negative and divisive. Don’t believe them. Talk to people as individuals and make your own determinations about who and what they are.

8. Stay away from the universal buttons!

What I am going to give you here is so valuable that it will smooth out communication for you with 80% of the people you deal with

Here are some of the universal buttons:

Do not invalidate a person or his or her beliefs and do not allow someone to invalidate yours.

When I say “invalidate”, I mean to seek to take away the credibility of the person, or the thing he or she believes in.

Nothing good comes from seeking to make people wrong. People have been made wrong so often that it has become a universal button. If you need to correct others’ behaviors, do it in such a way as to validate them for what they did right.

For example, if your child washes the dishes but misses a spot, first let him know how happy you are that he has done the dishes and what a sweet and caring person he is. Then, once you have made him RIGHT about the dishes, make him more right by showing him how he can do it better.

Focus on the right! Validate your people at every opportunity and really mean what you say! People blossom before your eyes when you do this and if you go out of your way to validate people, you will be the best loved person in any gathering.

Do not tell a person what to think about himself or herself and do not allow someone to do that to you.

This is extremely hard on a person and can cause unneeded sadness. Nobody wants to hear “Your problem is….!’ or “You need to ….”

The bottom line is that it is up to the person to decide what his or her “problem” is or what need to be changed in life. It’s extremely damaging that you point it out. Instead, offer to help them and show them different ways of doing things. Again, make them right for trying.

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When a person says something to you, don’t ignore them.

All you have to do is something that lets them know that you have understood them. If they are upset about something, don’t seek to minimize it or make them wrong for being upset. Help them out.

That said, there are people who seek to upset and irritate for sport. Let them know that you are onto their game and are unwilling to play it. If they decide to change, they can come back to your life; if not, tell them “See you later Baby!” and move on!

Do not interrupt people when they are talking.

This has gotten to be commonplace in our society but it breeds upset. If the person you are talking to is the one who hogs the conversation, wait for the breath to start in. If you’re interrupted, ask people to wait until you are finished.

9. Understand that communication is one of the most misunderstood subjects on the planet.

So many people have no idea how to communicate effectively and communication itself has become a big button. People learn bad habits from their parents, but these bad habits can destroy the whole generations of relationships.

To begin with a fruitful communication, listen to what people say and acknowledge them when they have spoken.

10. Know that life is full of both good and bad experiences and each is part of the learning curve of life.

If you have run into a bad experience, look at it and see what you can learn from it. Be grateful that it didn’t kill you and learn a lesson from it.

Take all of these techniques I have given you and practice them with people until you are comfortable using them.

This can open up a whole new world for you by giving you control over communication and tools to recreate relationships. Use them well. Educate those around you about communication and how it works and seek out more information on the subject. There is more to learn but this will get you started!

Good luck!

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Chris Ellis

Successful Author, Life Coach and Musician

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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