Trigger Points & Buttons

Educational Objective: The student will demonstrate a knowledge of situations or circumstances that tend to make him react emotionally.

Language Arts Standard: Listening and Speaking

• Identify Need: Everyone has emotional triggers and buttons: Teacher may personalize
• Introductory Activity: Definition
An emotional trigger is something that gets you upset very quickly. It can be a ruse name, a look one someone's face, a sarcastic remark or anything else you may react to in a hurry without thinking.
Sometimes you may not even realize that your feelings have been hurt until you reflect back on why you got angry so quickly.

Complete this worksheet:


Date: _____________________

As you read the following behaviors, use a scale of 1 - 5 to rate how you would usually respond to the situations described. Be honest with your answers! 1 = I don't care. 5= I think it's wrong.

Behavior Reaction Score
My best friend calls me names sometimes  
My best friends call me any kind of name (no limits)  
When my friends are making fun of someone else, I remain silent.  
When my friends are making fun of someone else, I laugh along with them.  
When someone else does better than me I find some fault in their work.  
I judge others before talking to them.  
I don't talk about my anger, I just get revenge.
I have thought about fighting when someone has been verbally abused.  
Score or Points

Analysis: Use this assessment as a way to be honest with yourself about your reactions to certain situations. Look at the behaviors you rated highest. Why are you so intolerant? Share with your classmates.

Things to Keep In Mind

  • Someone else's negative or cruel words about you are not your fault.
  • Trust your feelings. If you feel hurt, you probably are being hurt.
  • People who rely on verbal abuse are usually not very strong or sure of themselves.
  • You have a right to be treated with respect.
  • Remove yourself from a bad situation.
  • Get help.
  • Noone can take away your self-esteem.


Personal Rights

* to have your own feelings and opinions

* to be treated with respect

* to be taken seriously

* to be offered constructive criticism that is not intentioanally hurtful

* to be shown fair consideration when making a request

* to be dealth with in a fair and honest manner


Exercise: Read this excerpt from

Handling Hot Points by Ancella Livers


Emotional triggers can cause behavior that creates conflict. They are the irritations and aggravations that provoke you or compel you to behave in a way that is unproductive. When a boss, colleague or direct report pushes your buttons, you may feel frustrated, angry, powerless, anxious or resentful. Such reactions affect your productivity and creativity, and can cause significant problems for you and your organization.

One strategy for managing conflict is to know what kinds of situations are most likely to create conflicts for you, according to the creators of the Conflict Dynamics Profile (CDP), a tool used by CCL to help leaders understand and handle conflict. By assessing the degree to which certain behaviors or situations "set you off," you can better anticipate potential conflict and diffuse or avoid it.

Everybody has different hot buttons, but typical emotional triggers are situations in which you have to work with someone whose perspectives, values or style is different from yours. For example, you may feel your blood boil when you are dealing with someone who is an abrasive "know it all." Or maybe you get most aggravated with a reserved colleague who doesn't seem open or forthcoming. Other triggers may be failing to give credit to others, unreliability, self-centeredness or negativity.

There are many techniques, such as deep breathing, that allow you to stay in control of your emotions. The key is to identify your emotional triggers and recognize them in the moment. By doing so, you are more likely to check your reaction and diffuse or direct the conflict.

• Discuss the Skill
• Role Plays: Not recommended for class.
• Applications
• Independent Uses

See Also:

Fighting Invisible Tigers:
A Stress Management Guide for Teens

Earl Hipp

This revised and updated edition provides proven practical advice for teens on coping with stress, being assertive, taking risks, making decisions, staying healthy, dealing with fears, building relationships and more.