5 Brilliant Things Emotionally Intelligent People Do When Their Buttons Are Pushed

First things first—acknowledge that you have buttons that people can push.

We all do.

A button is an area in our life, that when provoked, sets us off. And let’s face it, usually in an uncomfortable or embarrassing way.

People with a strong or high level of emotional intelligence are not without buttons—but they do know how to identify those personal areas and are purposeful in dealing with them.

Their goal is to turn those buttons from trigger points to opportunities for growth.

When someone sets them off, they look inward instead of accusatorially at the person provoking them. They own the problem as their own and set their focus on removing the button.

Why is this so important?

In competitive environments, where a company is growing, promotions are often on the line.

Coworkers, under the pressure, can try to sabotage your shots of moving forward by intentionally pushing easily identified buttons.

How you manage yourself—how you respond when someone attempts to push your buttons—it matters.

If you find your buttons being pushed at work, your reaction not only reflects poorly on your level of professionalism and promotion eligibility—over time, it can jeopardize your job.

So, with that in mind, perhaps the better question becomes, How do I remove the buttons?

Let’s look at how people with a high emotional intelligence do just that.

1. They believe that they have a choice in how they respond to provocation.

People with a high EQ don’t feel that they are destined to respond in a certain way.

When provoked, they don’t immediately think, That person made me react this way. What was I supposed to do? They understand that they are not victims, instead, they know that they are empowered to decide how they want to respond to the situation.

This is a liberating, but challenging fact. Merely because the choice of how to respond still needs to be a healthy one.

It can take time to learn the best ways to respond strategically and emotionally.

People with a high EQ recognize that they are responsible for how they react and know how to take the time to step away from the situation to process the best ways to move forward.

2. They understand where emotions come from and know how to manage them.

People with a high EQ take responsibility for their emotions and learn how to manage them.

Too often people do not understand where emotions come from, or the purpose they hold. They think the emotions emerge from nowhere, and because of that, they let them take over.

Emotions are there to help us process life. They provide insight into what is really going on internally.

They are important in conversations, and should be expressed—but they are not designed to lead.

Often, it is not what happens to us that causes the emotion. It was what we believe about what happens to us that causes the emotion.

People with a high EQ, when faced with a highly emotionally charged response, know that it is important to ask why they are feeling that way. They also take responsibility for managing that reaction.

They take a look at their belief systems and address things at a root level.

3. They make room for different perspectives.

People with a high EQ understand that individuals have different perspectives, different thought processes, and different ways of looking at life.

They understand that how we look at things as individuals will be different—and they make room for that.

They are not locked into the belief that, My way is the only way.

Often, when our buttons are pushed, it is because we subconsciously think that our way, in that moment is the only or best way.

People with a high EQ not only make room for the reality of diverse perspectives,  place value in the diversity.

They are able to set that information in front of them when their buttons are pushed, and it diffuses their reaction and makes room for personal growth.

4. They take responsibility for their own motivation.

People with a high EQ rally their energy and strength towards goals. They have goals for their career, their relationships, and their personal growth track.

When a button is pushed, or they are provoked in a difficult conversation—they have a goal or end in mind.

They are able to ask themselves, Is this response going to help me get to where I want to go?

They understand that they are responsible for their motivation and can rally their focus and strength around those goals—therefore act accordingly.

If someone at work is provoking their emotional response, they can quickly identify how their reaction will move them further towards or away from the destination in mind.

5. They seek to know themselves.

People with a high EQ are self-aware.

They are constantly reaching to know who they are, and the effect they are having on others.

As I mentioned earlier, the first step to dealing with an area that is easily provoked is to acknowledge that the area exists.

People with a high EQ not only know that these areas exist, they are actively trying to address the reasons why they exist.

When someone pushes a button, they see that trigger as an opportunity to further grow and learn more about themselves.

A provocation doesn’t take them off guard. Instead, they see it as a mile-marker or indication of where they have been, and where they are going.

Those with a high EQ are not an elite group of people. They are simply people that have taken the time to build the skill.

We all have areas in our life where there are opportunities to grow. Conflict, regardless of the type, can be an excellent flashlight on those areas.

The next time someone pushes your buttons, don’t allow your emotions to take the wheel.

Ask yourself what is going on inside, and then challenge yourself to take ownership of that area.

You may not have control over the situation, but you do have control over how you respond to the situation. 

Developing your EQ can help you not only have the right response to conflict—it can give you the strength and ability to reduce the number of buttons you have to push in the first place.



Emotional intelligence, the ability to make emotions work for you instead of against you, is an essential quality of effective leaders, employees, and people.

But, how do you practically go about increasing awareness of both yourself and your surroundings?  

We’ve created our free guide entitled, “10 Things You Can Do Today To Increase Emotional Intelligence” to help you begin to learn how to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others and leverage this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships. Download it here.