This workshop encourages students to identify what pushes their “buttons” and brainstorm ways to overcome negative emotions in order to minimize the potential for conflict. The workshop begins with thinking about emotional triggers in school and at home then considers cross-cultural hot buttons. A hot button is something that creates a strong emotional response or reaction. Triggers are comments that may seem inoffensive to some but can make others feel badly, diminished, threatened or attacked.
What are the behaviors you find annoying, irritating and enraging? In the boxes below, list the things that people say or do that push your hot buttons. Identify one behavior at work (or school) and at home for each level.
|Hot Buttons at Work/School||Hot Buttons at Home|
|Annoying: _________________||Annoying: _________________|
|Irritating: _________________||Irritating: _________________|
|Enraging: _________________||Enraging: _________________|
Examples of statements that can trigger emotional responses for some individuals – but not for others – may include:
Emotional responses to triggers can include anger, confusion, pain, fear, surprise, and embarrassment. Responses to triggers include:
|Avoidance: Avoiding future encounters and withdrawing emotionally from people or situations that trigger us.||Silence: Not responding to the situation although it is upsetting; not saying or doing anything.|
|Misinterpreting: Feeling on guard and expecting to be triggered, we misinterpret something said and are triggered by our misinterpretation, not the words.||Attacking: Responding with the intent to lash back or hurt who ever has triggered us.|
|Confusion: Feeling angry, hurt or offended, but not sure what to do about it.||Internalization: Taking in the trigger, believing it to be true.|
|Naming: Identifying what is upsetting us to the triggering person or organization.||Confronting: Naming what is upsetting us to the triggering person and demanding that behavior to be changed.|
|Surprise: Responding to the trigger in an unexpected way, such as reacting with constructive humor that names the trigger and makes people laugh.||Discretion: Because of the dynamics of the situation (power imbalances, fear of physical retribution), deciding not to address the trigger right away but in some way at some other time.|
Read the following statements. How does it make you feel? How would you respond if you heard someone say this (pick from the trigger responses above).
|Trigger Statements||My “trigger” response|
|“Teenagers these days are so lazy and unmotivated. When I was a teen, I had to earn everything.”|
|“If they are going to live in this country, they should learn to speak good english.”|
|“I think homeless people choose to be homeless. Really, they just need to get a job like everyone else.”|
|“It’s just a natural, biological fact that men are better at being leaders than women.”|