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A recent survey of 2,000 employees conducted by Yahoo! Shine and Fitness Magazine found that, “Women are most likely to be annoyed when another steals credit for their ideas. This peeve is number one on the list for 41% of all women (and 36% of men). Perhaps because younger employees are less likely to speak up for themselves on the job, 44 percent of 18 to 34-year-olds, both men and women, say this is really ticks them off.”

This type of pet peeve exemplifies the hot button called untrustworthy found on the Conflict Dynamics Profile (CDP) instrument. Hot buttons focus on behaviors in other people that tend to irritate or upset us when we encounter them. The untrustworthy hot button refers to behaviors like taking undeserved credit and exploiting others. In general, it is the hot button that causes the greatest amount of irritation.

Dealing with the Untrustworthy Hot Button

Although people generally focus on the other person’s untrustworthy behavior, it is just as important to be able to manage your own irritation or frustration generated when your untrustworthy hot button is pushed. In order to be able to effectively address the untrustworthy behavior it helps to have your emotions in balance. If you are upset it becomes too easy to react with destructive behaviors that exacerbate the situation. The key is to gain balance by cooling down.

To cool down reactions to the untrustworthy hot button it helps to reflect on why it is a hot button for you. While most people get somewhat upset when dealing with untrustworthy people, not all do. Why does this behavior upset you? How would you prefer to feel and respond when you encounter an untrustworthy person?  The trick is to be able to manage your emotions first. At that point you can work on holding the other person accountable without as much danger of flying off the handle yourself and escalating the conflict.

We recommend a combination of emotional management techniques and reflective behaviors to help you understand the situation better. The cooling techniques can include centering and breathing techniques as well as reappraisal processes for seeing whether there are other ways of interpreting the other person’s actions.  Reflective behaviors allow you to try to understand both how you are experiencing the conflict as well as what might be going on from the other person’s point of view.

Once you have your emotions under control and have reflected on the situation, you are ready to be able to confront the other person. It is important to be able to hold other people accountable who are acting in untrustworthy ways that affect you or others. We recommend speaking directing to the other person. Describe the situation and the behaviors that you observed the other person do and then tell them how this made you feel. It is usually better to be more factual and less judgmental. It might sound something like, “In yesterday’s meeting, when you claimed to have closed the sale with our new client, it made me very upset because I had conducted the negotiations with him and it appeared that you were taking credit for my work. I’d like to know what your thoughts were when you say you had closed the sale?”

You can hold the other person accountable more effectively if you manage your own hot button. If you want to find out more about hot buttons, you can contact the Mediation Training Institute at 888-359-9906 or mti@eckerd.edu.