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Managers are susceptible to getting upset in conflicts situations just like everyone else. In other words, managers can have their hot buttons pushed. When their hot buttons are triggered by an event or by someone else’s behaviors, they become more prone to acting out in counterproductive ways. If they respond destructively, it can prolong conflicts. Research from the Center also suggests that such responses can cause them to be viewed less favorably by their bosses.

It is important for managers to understand their hot button profiles in order to become more aware of what triggers them in the first place. Doing this helps lessen their chances of losing their cool and acting out in ways that escalate a conflict. The Conflict Dynamics Profile® (CDP) provides an in-depth measure of classic workplace hot button behaviors such as untrustworthy, unreliable, hostile, and abrasive. After recognizing their own hot buttons, managers can use CDP workbooks and coaching assistance to develop strategies to lessen the intensity of these hot buttons. Managers can also develop emotional regulation techniques to regain composure more quickly.

Developing mastery over hot buttons can help managers who are involved in their own conflicts. It can also be helpful when they are using the Manager as Mediator (MAM) techniques taught by the Center’s Mediation Training Institute. In the MAM process, managers bring together employees who are experiencing a conflict which is causing a business problem. Managers meet with the employees in separate preliminary meetings and then together in a mediation session where the employees talk through the issue until they find a resolution to the business problem. In the preliminary meetings and in the mediation session, it is possible for the employees to do or say things that might push one or more of the manager’s hot buttons.

In order for managers to serve as an effective mediator they need to be able to maintain their composure so that they can maintain a neutral presence. Managers must not be goaded into taking sides or jumping in to solve the problem themselves. As a consequence, recognizing and regulating their hot buttons is an important skill for managers.