Successful leaders never let their employees do this

When you look at highly respected leaders, effective leaders, emotionally intelligent leaders, leaders who employees climb over themselves to work for, you will notice a common trait. There is one thing they never let their employees do…

They do not let their employees push their buttons.

These leaders excel in self-awareness and self-control. They are comfortable with people who have differing opinions. They do not always have to be right.  They can have honest conversations about difficult subjects.  And their employees will follow them to the ends of the earth.    

These leaders have mastered three things:

  • They are aware of their own buttons
  • They are not easily triggered when their buttons are pushed
  • If they do get triggered, they use specific techniques to regain control quickly

Know your buttons

“When someone insults us or does something unkind to us, an internal formation is created in our consciousness. If you don’t know how to undo the internal knot and transform it, the knot will stay there for a long time. And the next time someone says something or does something to you of the same nature, that internal formation will grow stronger. As knots or blocks of pain in us, our internal formations have the power to push us, to dictate our behavior.”  – Thich Nhat Hanh

Buttons.  We all have them.  And I’m not referring to the fasteners on your shirt.  Our buttons can dictate our behavior if we don’t have control over them.

What are your hot buttons?  What really really really bugs you?   

You know your button has been pushed when your mental response is something along the lines of:

“You’re wrong!”

“Geez!  What’s wrong with you?”

“You don’t know me at all.”

“What an idiot!”

“Who do you think you are?”

“You think I’m bad?  Let’s talk about what YOU do!”

“You don’t care about anyone but yourself.”

“What a hypocrite!”

“If that’s what you really think, then I quit.  I’m out of here.”

Most of the time you don’t say these out loud, but you’re certainly thinking them.  Pay attention to the people, situations, behaviors and issues that cause you to have a strong reaction.  

Also, be aware that what is triggering you may not be directly related to the current situation.  There is a saying, “Don’t stumble over something that is behind you.”  Don’t let your past dictate your future. Knowing what your buttons are is the first step.  The next step is being able to maintain control or event prevent yourself from getting triggered in the first place.

What to do if you get triggered

What techniques can you use when you feel yourself getting triggered?  Here are a few ideas:


Yeah yeah yeah, I know.  It sounds cliché.  But I can’t tell you how often I use this technique.  When I feel myself getting triggered I say to myself:

“Breathe in” (inhale).  (Hold breath). “Breathe out” (exhale).

Super simple and super effective.   

Buy yourself time

The following are responses you can use to buy yourself time to get back in control:

“That’s interesting.”

“Tell me more.”

“Why do you think that?”

“What makes you say that?”

These are responses you can use when you feel yourself getting triggered and need to buy some time before you respond.  In addition to gaining time, these responses can signal the other person to explain their position.  Their explanation may provide important information or insights. The more specifics you can uncover, the more understanding you will gain.

The Sippy Cup Solution

Have you ever watched a toddler who’s crying, or yelling or just chattering away when perhaps mommy and/or daddy would prefer for them to be quiet?  What’s a great way to achieve that goal?  Give them a sippy cup.     

How can this solution work for you?  By using the same premise.  If you are sipping a drink, you can not push back verbally because your mouth is otherwise occupied.  Are you going to meet with someone who is likely to annoy you?  Are you expecting a disagreement?  Do you just know you’re going to feel the need to jump in or interrupt?    

Bring something to drink.  Bring a glass of water, a cup of coffee, a bottled soda, even your favorite Kombucha.  When the person says something that you disagree with or annoys you, take a sip of your drink.  It literally keeps you from responding because your mouth is engaged in something other than saying, “I completely disagree.”

NOTE:  Do NOT use a straw.  When you make that annoying sound when you are at the end of the drink it can signal disrespect.

Know your buttons.  Don’t let your employees push them.  If you do get triggered, use the techniques above to gain time and press your emotional reset button so you can mindfully respond rather than mindlessly react.  

Holly Buchanan

Holly Buchanan

Holly Buchanan is the author of Selling Financial Services to Women – What Men Need to Know and Even Women Will Be Surprised to Learn. She is the co-author of The ... Web: Details