Quit Pushing My Buttons!


How Well Do You Manage Your Emotional Reactions at Work?

Automatic, negative responses to people or events often indicate a hypersensitivity that’s referred to as “getting your buttons pushed.” At work, these emotional reactions can limit your career advancement and cap the level of success you might achieve. Sometimes these sensitivities have their origins in hurtful childhood experiences, such as repeatedly being criticized, rejected or controlled. Sometimes you’re simply at your wits end and unable to go with the flow of the day’s events.

To learn more about how well you manage your emotions at work, answer the following two sets of questions, TRUE or FALSE.

SET 1 

1. When anyone critiques my work—constructively or not—I tend to shut down and withdraw or feel ashamed.

2. When someone hurts me—for instance, if they fail to acknowledge my contribution—I lash out at them or blame myself.

3. I hate it when colleagues tell me I’m “too sensitive.”

4. When a colleague says or does something that makes me mad, it takes me a long time to let go of it. I often carry resentment.

5. Sometimes I have no idea why I respond to coworkers the way that I do—I just can’t control myself.


 1. If I feel inordinately upset or angered by something at work, I take a deep breath, and then take an honest look to see what I can learn from the situation.

2. When I feel “triggered,” I know it often has nothing to do with the person who pushed my buttons.

3. If after I have calmed down and returned to a professional state of mind, I find that a current situation needs to be addressed, I do so in a constructive manner.

4. I’m familiar with the situations to which I am most likely to overreact. I recognize when my buttons have been pushed, and I am less reactive.

5. When my buttons do get pushed now, I am able to see any unresolved personal issues needing my attention. I can then return my focus to my work.

If you answered true more often in Set 1 and false more often in Set 2, you may wish to learn how to deal more effectively with your emotional responses in the workplace. Your success depends on it!

Feel free to contact me for more on developing emotional resilience in the workplace.


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  2. Can You Say “No”?

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