Stop Pushing My Buttons!

Stop Pushing My Buttons!

I’m sure you have heard people say things like, “He really knows how to push my buttons.”  It is a phrase that has been repeated over and over again because it is the common experience of people world over.  I wouldn’t be surprised if there wasn’t an ancient Confucius version of this phrase.  We know what if feels like when someone repeatedly does something that just irritates you and gets under your skin.  You might call this the “annoy me button”.

We all have them – people who push your “annoy me button”.   You know, the buttons that cause you to squirm.  When that button is pushed it makes your blood pressure spike and your blood boil. It seems like the same people tend to push those buttons.  It almost feels like they do it intentionally!

People wouldn’t be able to push your buttons if you didn’t have “buttons”.  You see, each of us do have “annoy me buttons”, and they tend to lead to conflict in our relationships.  I wouldn’t be surprised if you couldn’t rattle off a list of things that cause you to get irritated.  Think about the ways your spouse pushes your buttons.  I am not the most organized person in the world.  Actually, I am disorganized.  But my wife is extremely organized.  She dreams up ways of reorganizing our home every night.  There is nothing that pushes my buttons more than when she decides that she needs to organize my stuff.  Its hard enough when she organizes her stuff.  “Where are my shoes?”  “Where are my keys?”  Granted,  often my shoes and keys are exactly where I left them, but I couldn’t remember where they were, but often times they were organized by you know who, which means they are now were they should have been.  Ugh!

Another one of my buttons is being locked out.  My wife is always looking doors.  I don’t carry around a chain of keys, so I find myself locked out.  I go to get something out of the car, and it is locked.  Why?  We live in a very safe neighborhood!  We have a refrigerator in the garage to hold drinks and other snacks.  Why would anyone lock the door between the family room and the garage?  My wife does!  She even uses the deadbolt!  Every time I go to get a snack, I must unlock the door.  It takes like four extra seconds!  And if I don’t lock the door when I come back from the garage, I am in deep trouble.

To be fair I am sure I push her buttons too.  I know what they are.  Let’s just say that occasionally I don’t lock the garage door after getting a bottle of water.  I don’t do this on purpose, but it happens – often.  It’s important to her.  You see, security isn’t that big of a deal for me.  Risk is one of my top strengths.  Risk is very low for my wife.

Our buttons are often related to our Portrait of Strengths profile.  My wife is strong in Methodical.  It is one of my greatest weaknesses.  I am strong in Risk and my wife has it as a weakness.  Our strengths and weaknesses often set up the “annoy me buttons” in our relationships.  This can happen with our spouses, our children, our neighbors, and the people we work.  So how do we deal with the daily experience of having our buttons pushed?

Here are some ways of navigating these buttons so they don’t destroy your relationships.

  • Know your buttons. Connect your buttons to your strengths and weaknesses on your Strengths Profile.  Understanding why your buttons get pushed is an important step in relating more effectively.
  • Believe the best of other’s motives. Remember strengths are connected to motives.  Your spouse is not trying to make your life miserable!  Their behavior is connected to helping People, having a better Process, or improving Performance.  Understanding their motives will help you believe they are not trying to push your buttons.  They really aren’t trying to make you miserable.
  • Try to see that the very things that push your buttons may be things that you need in your life. I hate to admit it, but this year our car was broken into one evening because I didn’t lock the door!  We can learn things from people who have strengths that are almost opposite of our own.
  • Don’t forget to think about how you also push other people’s buttons! Your strengths may very well be a trigger for other people’s buttons being pushed.  Relate more aware of the impact your have on other people.

Your SDI training can help you get better results through your relationships as you apply your knowledge.  The Scripture tells us to believe the best of others (1 Cor 13:7).  This is true even of those who push your buttons.  May your knowledge about what causes buttons to be pushed, help you fulfill the invitation to love.

Bruce Terpstra

Our President, Dr. Bruce Terpstra, has 36 years of pastoral ministry experience. He is a veteran of 17 years in denominational leadership and developed more than 70 new churches in the New York metro area and has given oversight to almost 400 pastors. He holds a doctorate in Leadership Development and is also the founder of 3KeyCoaching and the author of Three Passions of the Soul.