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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 May 28, 2020

10 Success Principles for Living Your Dream Life

10 Success Principles for Living Your Dream Life

Are you stressed out and overwhelmed, wishing you had more time to do the things that really matter? Are you ready to do something better, something special in your life or your career?

You were born with a gift that no one else in the world can express like you. When you dance to your own music, you naturally develop your innate abilities and excel in work and life. You are a total rock star. But when you live someone else’s idea of who you should be, it throws off your groove.

Many people—maybe you—stopped following their dreams way too early in life because their talents were ignored, minimized, or shamed. They didn’t have the chops to win an American Idol competition or nab an Olympic gold medal, so they stopped expressing their inborn gifts altogether.

You don’t need to be an award winner to rock your life. Living your dream life is about discovering your superpowers and feeling vibrant and joyful when you use them. It’s about owning what makes you unique and finding like-minded people to support you.

Here are 10 success principles to help you live a rich and rewarding life on your terms that have worked with thousands of people in my workshops and will work for you, too.

1. Get a Hobby to Move Closer to Your Dreams

If you never became a professional dancer or a world-renowned author, it does NOT mean you should stop dancing or writing! These activities make you come alive, even if you “only” do them as favorite pastimes.

Engaging in a hobby is one of the most important success principles you can follow to move closer to your dreams.

When you try something creative for the first time or in a long while, you begin to see opportunities at work and in life that you were unaware of before. You also feel happier and more energized, according to a recent study from New Zealand.[1]

Some of my most burned-out executive clients reinvigorated their careers by discovering a creative outlet that refueled them after the workday ended. Research at San Francisco State University shows that having a hobby lowers stress and helps you succeed at work.[2]

So, give yourself permission to try new things and revisit old passions you gave up long ago. Setting aside just one hour a week for personal exploration can significantly change your life.

Who knows? Your creative outlet could transform into a thriving business or lead to a new profession down the road.

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2. Focus on Your Strengths, Not Your Weaknesses

Did you know that you are more likely to succeed when you develop your natural strengths rather than work on your weaknesses? The problem is that you probably don’t know where your true talents lie.

Here are a few options to help you discover your unique strengths. You can:

  • Take the VIA Character Strengths Survey[3]
  • Try Gallup’s CliftonStrengths Assessment[4]
  • Answer a few Superpower Questions

Once you understand what makes you tick, you can use these skills at work and your personal life to get more done in less time. If you boost your unique abilities through practice and study, you can accelerate your career and become a leader in a field that matters to you. It’s worth investing in yourself this way.

3. Jumping off a Cliff is NOT Required

Here’s the deal: most people are too afraid to change. When participants first come to my workshops, they tell me they have mouths to feed, bills to pay, and fear that if they follow their dreams, someone will get hurt.

The old saying “leap and the net shall appear” does not comfort them. Because they are hesitant to plunge into the unknown, they believe their only option is to stay put where they are in life. Can you relate?

You do not have to sacrifice the life you have now to start a new one. I was a psychology professor by day and singer by night for years before I transitioned into a full-time music career.

Just take a little time out each week to do what enlivens you through a hobby, volunteer work, etc. Get a feel for it.

Is it what you really want? If so, increase the time you spend doing it and make the transition when the time feels right.

4. Give Your Inner Critic Some Love

The main culprit that keeps you from stepping outside your comfort zone and getting the life of your dreams is KCRP or K-CRAP – the radio station that plays 24/7 in your head. The moment you try to do something interesting with your life it slaps you down with such chart-topping killer hooks as “Who do you think you are?” and “You’ll never be good enough!”.

Have you ever noticed that KCRP’s mean-spirited DJ sounds like your parents, teachers, bosses, and other authority figures who shut you down creatively? These folks don’t need to stifle you any longer (although they often still do) because your inner critic does it for them. That keeps you stuck in a rut.

To break free, try thinking of this DJ as a gruff old grandfather who gives you crap to keep you safe. Remember, this grumpy grandpa is woefully out of touch with the times. So, his stern opinions don’t really matter much, do they? Give him a pat on the back for his good intentions, and put your focus back on what makes you come alive.

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This success principle will give you the courage to venture into the unknown where you can dance to the beat of your own drummer.

5. Embrace Your Inner Weirdo

Many of us don’t go after our dreams because we’re afraid folks will find out how odd or strange we are. But our little eccentricities often turn out to be our greatest strengths. Yes, it’s good to be quirky.

Odds are, you lost track of your true passions and talents before you were even old enough to know you were getting off-track. You became slowly “adulterated” by learning to:

  • Take on family roles that don’t match who you really are.
  • Spit back what teachers taught you in school rather than risk getting bad grades for being original.
  • Hide parts of yourself that don’t seem acceptable to certain social groups.

The price for fitting in is that you may wind up leading a life that doesn’t fit you all that well. Your true calling becomes clear when you embrace what makes you different from others and allow yourself to stand out from the crowd, even if it feels awkward.

Often, the very qualities you view as your flaws are your greatest gifts.

6. See the Bigger Picture to Find Your True Calling

I cannot stress the importance of this success principle enough. Your true calling is right in front of you. But you may miss it because you’re looking for it in the wrong place.

To “see” it clearly, try widening your point of view.

Case in point: Maria felt she needed to retire early from being a police detective, so she could travel abroad. I encouraged Maria to think of ways that she could continue to serve as a law enforcer (a career she loved) and travel overseas at the same time.

A few months later, Maria landed a job with the United Nations in Bosnia training the local police force to understand and embrace human rights procedures.

Like Maria, you are an everyday rock star capable of accomplishing greater things than you can imagine. Is what you’re looking for right in front of you, too? Do you have an inkling of what it may be?

Look beyond your day-to-day activities, your current job, and even the town you live in. View your life from an eagle’s perspective and be open to new possibilities.

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7. Try a Little Wish-List Magic

Pretend I’m your fairy godmother and I give you permission right now to be your most magnificent self. What kind of life would be music to your ears? It doesn’t matter whether it seems unattainable or even downright crazy. Write it down on a wish list.

Get quiet. Be honest. Think big.

What would you like your career, your relationships, your health, your finances, and your spiritual life to be like? Jot down enough details so that your wishes seem tangible to you. Then, look at this list every morning before you start your day and every night before you go to sleep.

Sounds silly? It’s not. It works! Permitting yourself to daydream about a rich and fulfilling life is the first step to manifesting it.

8. Take Breaks to Get Clues About Your Ideal Future

Did you know that working straight through to a deadline leads to diminishing returns? Research shows that taking a break for 15 minutes every 75 to 90 minutes can help you recharge, refresh your focus, and get more done in less time.[5]

Wait, it gets better! A Stanford study shows that walking increases your creative output increases by 60 percent. Doing repetitive activities such as walking, running, riding your bike, swimming, and sweeping allow solutions to problems to pop into your mind out of nowhere.[6]

What does this success principle have to do with creating your dream life?

These mini-breaks allow you to get vital clues for what to do next to attain your ideal future. Plus, you won’t waste precious time and energy getting lost in other people’s agendas.

9. Take Action on Your Inspired Ideas

Once an inspired thought pops into your mind, take action.

This is one of the most powerful success principles for turning your dreams into reality; the sooner the better. Whatever it is—from calling an old friend to taking a new route home—be sure to do it!

Pay attention to your oddball hunches. You need to go after what you want, not just dream about it. As comedian Jim Carrey warns,

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“You can’t just visualize and go eat a sandwich.”

10. Count Your Rockstar Moments

Still not sure you have what it takes to get your dream life? This final success principle is guaranteed to help.

Make a list of everything you’ve ever accomplished. As you read back through it, put a star next to each item, and let it sink in.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how good you’ll feel about yourself afterward. You’ll also see how effective you’ve been in the past at getting what you want. You’ve succeeded before, you can succeed again.

You already rock. You just need to own it. Trust me, you’ve got this!

Final Thoughts

Eleanor Roosevelt said,

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Following these success principles will help you find the time and energy to do the things that really matter and live with clear intention.

By spending just one hour a week doing something you love, focusing on your strengths and achievements, embracing what makes you different, and acting on inspired ideas, you can create a life that is a perfect fit for you, step-by-step.

If you don’t have a clue about what your dream life could look like yet, don’t worry. Your heart knows. It has been “talking” to you for a long time. It’s just being muffled by KCRP, buried under a lot of “shoulds” and fear.

This article can also help you figure out the life you truly want to live: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up.

Stand still, get quiet, and listen. It’s constantly telling you what you need to do to realize your own rockstar potential. It may be just a whisper now, but the more you pay attention to it, the louder it will get, and the easier it will be to follow.

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Featured photo credit: Rahul Dey via unsplash.com

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