Are You Aware of Your Emotional Triggers?

Remember every time you prevent your “triggers” from taking you on a ride, you are successful at making things better for yourself as well as your team.


Young John is creating a big fuss about his breakfast again! He just wants to have some chocolate milk. At first, it used to bother Amy and Ralph and they used to get angry with their son. They wanted him to behave more responsibly. But then they learned to deal with it and not let their child’s behavior make them angry anymore. They do not let his tantrums reduce their love for him, but they have also learned not to give in to his every demand because he creates a fuss.

Amy and Ralph have learned to manage their emotions. It all started with reflecting on the situation after they had been angry. They realized that this is creating more harm than good. They decided to change, and it started with recognizing the triggers. What makes them angry? Does anger solve their problem? How can they deal with their emotions in a better way? How can they manage their emotions?

Surely many an Executive can relate to this story; they have lived it in their own homes first as a child and then as a parent.

Emotional Triggers like this may affect you in multiple spheres of life and bring you to harm in your professional success. They are the predictable patterns of your behavior that can go against you.

Something happened and you reacted! You do not seem to have control over your reactions and that puts you in a disadvantage.

COVID-19 has bought some additional challenges to us all. With teams working remotely, getting the sense of all that is going on is so tough and we may feel overwhelmed. Such situations can lead to more ‘triggers’ affecting us. Are you finding yourself more frustrated? Angry? More often than before? The problem with emotional triggers is that they cascade! You may react in the heat of the moment and then someone else is triggered! Working remotely, with limited possibilities to resolve things, this can cause an avalanche! We need to better handle ourselves!

Getting Better at Handling Emotional Triggers

· Be Aware: First one is being aware. Write the following for you-

o What are your hot buttons i.e. the situations when you feel triggered? (You can take feedback from people around to know more about yourself on this)

o It may take time to establish the hot buttons.

o Once you know about them, all you have to do is keep an eye out for them.

· Reflect: Figure out why you react a certain way in above situations? Was it something you felt?

o Anger?

o Disappointment?

o Fear?

o Exclusion?

o Powerlessness?

o Disrespect?

o Being ignored?

o Manipulation?

o Control?

o Judgment?

o Blame?

Knowing what ‘triggers’ affect you is the ‘start’. Reflect on your behavior whenever it puts you in a disadvantage. There is a trigger hidden there. Whenever you feel later like, ‘Oh God! I should have known/done better!”, it is the time for that reflection and acknowledgment.

· Rewire – Respond, not React: Take control of your reactions. Easier said than done! Yes, this is a tough part. Here are a few tricks that can surely help you.

o Recognize that you are getting emotionally triggered. Be aware of that moment when the anger or frustration etc, rising in you.

o Take a pause. Prevent yourself from reacting. Do not let yourself make an unwanted remark that you will regret later. Hold on. Take a few breaths before responding.

o Think before speaking. Even at the cost of looking slow in reaction, consider your words in your head. Think if they are just intended to hurt the other person or just to counter the argument? Do you think you know enough of why they said something that triggered you?

o Be curious. Try to understand their reasons? There may be something new that you can discover, something that you may not be aware of. This new information may help you create a better response of your own. Ask open-ended questions. Seek more.

o Have trust in your own abilities. Believe that you are doing your best and that you have the power to come out of the situation without any harm. Let others feel that you are in control, stay humble, and genuinely interested in resolving the situation. Just like you would calmly tell you some John that breakfast has to be balanced and that he cannot have chocolate milk every day. You would lovingly negotiate and get to an agreement on what else can be acceptable rather than shouting on him.

o Be compassionate: Consider that the situation is tough for all and that someone else may get emotionally triggered. If you can help the other person realize and make the situation better, you can avoid that avalanche!

Be in control and set an example in your own organization. Remember every time you prevent your “triggers” from taking you on a ride, you are successful at making things better for yourself as well as your team. Others will take note of the change in your behavior and as their fear about your potential negative reactions goes away, they may be more open with you. These open dialogues will help you make good progress as a team!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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Manbir Kaur Emotional Trigger


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