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Stop people from pushing your buttons & avoid burnout

June 29, 2016

Negative interactions with others especially at work can be extremely stressful. In fact negative experiences where people push our buttons is one of the primary contributors to burnout in an office setting. Edit
When we experience negative stressful encounters with others it can send the meta message that our needs are not important. Everyone wants to feel respected at work and feel they are making important contributions, when feedback or interactions trigger the idea that we are not respected, worthy or trusted that can trigger negative emotional reactions and contribute to burnout syndrome.

Burn out is a psychological syndrome that includes exhaustion,cynicism and inefficiency at work. It can lower self esteem and lead to anxiety and depression. Burnout is costly in that leads to unnecessary turnover, illness and loss of productivity.  

Unfortunately because we can’t control the actions of others we must focus on taking responsibility for our own responses and reactions to negative stressful encounters

Here are a few simple tips to mange negative emotions when someone pushes your buttons: 

1. Breath and relax:
Don’t let unnecessary tension add to the problem.  Unless you need to physically fight or run away it’s not necessary to get worked up. Click here on breathing tips 

2.Be your most “emotionally intelligent self”: assess what feelings you’re having and how strong they are. This will help you to become more self aware of your emotional reactions so you can be productive not counterproductive in your actions – frustration, anger, anxiety, confusion, dissatisfaction and disappointed usually are common. Use a ratings scale 1-10 to measure the amount.

3. Go Deep: what bugs you most on an emotional level with the situation or person e.g. I’m not in control; I feel taken advantage of; 

3.Then go concrete: ask your self what concrete obstacle are you feeling up against because of the situation   E.g. If he keeps interrupting me I can’t get this report in on time, e.g.2  I have to stay later 30 min than I wanted to in order to finish my tasks.  I won’t be home in time to workout    

4. Put a value that is realistic on the problem? e.g. If I don’t get him to stop interrupting me I will miss the deadline -this could cost us the bid. E.g.2 If I don’t end his interruptions I will be delayed in my todo list but many times what he needs is very important and if I don’t get to my gym class it will cost me $30 fee. 
Both problem examples have value but very different

4. Look for solutions that meet the value of the problem and address the concrete issue: Ask yourself “what different solutions can I take to resolve the concrete part problem?”
E.g. I can let him know that I need to get this report in on time and ask him to plan a meeting later in the day. Or I can say nothing and try to get in done. 
E.g. 2 I can tell him that my Task list is pending and that I can give him a few minutes of my attention now. Or I can forgo the gym on days we are really busy at work and just workout at home.  

5. Cost /benefit: Evaluate each solution: What are the benefits and costs of the plan? How much better or worse will I feel if I do or don’t activate this solution? Eg. If I plan a meeting then I have to find time but at least I’ll have time to finish my report And feel in control. If I don’t then I’ll be anxious and not able to focus on him or the report.
Eg.2 If I tell him I have to do my todo list and give him a few minutes now I’m afraid he will then want to meet at the end of the day. I like to leave on time and prefer no meetings after 4 so I’m better off managing his needs during the day and having my autonomy later . Keep in mind these are just examples.  It’s up to you to do the evaluation for your own value. 

6.Take Action: Then activate your plan. If your plan requires speaking to someone make sure you use assertion not aggression and active listening not defensiveness.

  •  A few tips to keep in mind: set up for positive conversation by making a request to speak to the person. Even if it’s on the spot- let the person know you have something to say or ask of them. Prepare them to hear your feedback and focus on yourself  don’t just dump it on them. “Hey I’m having a hard time concentrating. Can we take a few minutes to catch up later ? ” Then later be assertive by mention how the interrupting is for you. Don’t blame the person for interrupting you. Ask them for suggestions on how to connect that works for both of you. After all you don’t want to do the same as in now impose your needs on them. Help them to see how you both will win.  

Dr Jayme Albin is organizational psychologist and coach. She works with individual professional and decision making leaders to improve work place stress and performance and resiliency training.
Dr Albin.  For more info contact 212-631-1133 or

Jayme Albin, Ph.D Psychologist NYC-Therapist NYC F