We all have triggers – the little things that drive our reactions and behaviours, both good and bad. However, do you know what your triggers are? Can you recognize them before your auto-pilot reactions kick in? Especially the more negative ones? Understanding your own triggers can help make the difference between a successful interaction and a disastrous one, or a winning negotiation and a failed one.
So how do you identify your triggers in the first place?
If you think about what makes you happy, smile or laugh, what inspires you and gives you energy, you can probably come up with a number of triggers that initiate these reactions. It might be something as simple as a “thank you” from a colleague or your boss, being able to help your kids with their math homework or watching your favourite movie. These positive triggers tend to initiate positive behaviours. These are great as they tend to bring out the best in us. If only we could behave like that all the time.
Unfortunately, we all have more negative triggers, the ones that tend to initiate very different behaviours. That could be a bit more aggressive, angry behavior on your part, maybe raising your voice, shouting, or being stubborn and inflexible. Whatever the behavior, it’s certainly not you at your best. Something has happened to trigger this so if you can identify what that trigger is, you can do something about it before the negative behavior kicks in.
Knowing and owning your triggers.
For me, it can be things like lack of planning on the part of my colleagues or staff and expecting me to do things at the last minute. Their lack of planning suddenly turns into my emergency! Slow internet speeds drive me crazy and I start bashing my keyboard. The fact I can never find files on my Macbook. Or at home it might be my daughter rolling her eyes at me when I ask her to clean her room. Or someone pushing in front of me in a queue, or cutting me up in traffic, or people parking badly and taking up two spaces. The list goes on and on! If you take the time to think about all these little triggers that tend to evoke a negative reaction or behavior, that’s a great step towards turning them around into much more positive reactions. So, take a minute, think about these triggers and create your own list.
Know your trigger – take back control.
Once you know your triggers, you can catch yourself whenever they happen. You can take back control and turn that negative trigger into a much more positive one. That can be as simple as taking a deep breath, taking a mindful time out, or walking yourself through a simple set of pre-arranged thoughts in your head. The trick is being able to identify the trigger and stop the automatic reaction that’s hard wired in your brain. The one that generates the negative behaviour you want to change. Taking a second to say “Hey – wait a minute, I recognize that trigger! It used to drive me crazy but now I’m in control. I’m going to turn that around”.
We’ll explore some great ways to manage these moments in our next blog.