How To Transform Hot Buttons Into Warm Buttons

What are hot buttons? Let me assure you, all of us have a few/maybe many different ones. But basically, it means thoughts, words and actions by others (usually) which could violate our values and get in the way of how we usually perceive and feel. They may not necessarily be words, thoughts and actions that are negative, because those negatives could actually be totally acceptable to someone else. So, what do I mean?

If you are familiar with the Enneagram, which is about 9 different personalities and how they see the world, you will know that each type has different motivations/fears and focus of attention. It is evident then that their hot buttons will also be quite different. Here are the typical hot buttons of each type:

Type 1- Carelessness, being rushed and not being concerned about rules or principles.

Type 2- People who ungrateful, bossy and indifferent.

Type 3- Laziness, pessimism and people who are not action-oriented.

Type 4- Mediocrity, mundane and plain vanilla. People who are superficial.

Type 5-  Shallow or small talk, or being thrown into the limelight.

Type 6- Incomplete information, inconsistency and carelessness.

Type 7- Formality, rules and structure. Loss of freedom.

Type 8- Injustice, unfairness and indifference.

Type 9- Tense people, and when their peace and comfort are taken away from them.

All 9 points seem like hot buttons that no one wants to experience, and I am sure there are many which would seem like water off a duck’s back for certain types. In other words, what certain type will not tolerate are highly tolerable for other types.

My friend Jef Gomez (CEO of Click Academy) opined that we tend to forgive quite easily when our hot buttons are pressed by the ones who are closest to us.  But if it is by someone who is less close, such buttons can stick like latex and fester for days/weeks/months. When the inner demons click in, hot buttons result in passive-aggression, active-aggression and revenge. So, what can we do when this sullen mess rears its ugly head?

Just 2 tips for today:

  1. Whatever pisses you off may be something you are pissed off about yourself. I once came across this perspective and was resistant to it. Upon closer reflection I realised some of these patterns are so deep, it’s hard to even notice it. For e.g. while I dislike show offs and those who persistently toot their own horn, I have found myself frequently selling my programs and sharing about my experience, testimonials and success stories. Mild as they are, this was another form of blowing my own horn. While I dislike doing it, I still do. This realization has made me judge others less because I do it myself.
  2. Go deeper into the reason(s) behind the anger to reduce it. There is abundant research and even logic will tell you that anger has value. Liebermann claims that when you are clear about all the reasons why you are truly pissed off, the tension starts to dissipate. Your mind and body calms down and is no longer lost for answers as to why you were truly pissed off. It labours less after having navigated through massive amounts of data. In other words, your mind had probably searched and struggled to find answers until it did. And in time, these inner struggles, just like exercise, become easier to handle than the previous day.

I would like to leave you with a meaningful quote …

Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. –Buddha

By: Dr. Granville D’Souza, DBA


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