Why Do People Push My Buttons?

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Why Do People Push My Buttons?

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You must be a jerk!

While having my hair done my friend told me about her recent trip to a retreat. Everything was fine until she mentioned to her friend that she was feeling uncomfortable about something that was recently said. She said the woman started yelling at her to tell her she shouldn’t feel that way. My friend was so upset and annoyed she moved to the other side of the room. She said she was sure smoke was coming out of her ears. It was at that point she had a revelation. The woman was right, why was she so uncomfortable?

Often times in life we have experiences that ‘push our buttons,’ as they say.

The other day I was in the supermarket, and someone almost knocked me over. My first feeling was that of irritation. Someone pushed my button.  It’s almost as if we have actual buttons installed on our body waiting for someone to turn on their emotional switches. Suddenly, I looked around and it was a small child who bumped into me. He was yelling for his mother and didn’t see me. My mood changed and instead of being angry, I bent down to comfort the child.

Think about it in a retail situation. The customer doesn’t call us back and we say she’s just a jerk. If we don’t call her, we make excuses for our behavior. No wonder customer service is such a mess.

Like my friend, I wondered, why was I annoyed and how was I able to change my mood so quickly? Why didn’t I ‘think’ and the act, instead of the other way around?

Do you remember something called the Fundamental Attribution Error? (Check out the link to Psychology 101) Basically it FAE means that we assume a negative intention behind someone’s behavior. On the other hand if I commit the behavior, I would claim that I did it accidentally. It’s okay for me to act a certain way, but not you. If you’re late I believe it’s because you’re either a jerk, or did  it on purpose or don’t care; even if you have an excuse. If I’m late, it’s okay; my excuse is legitimate and my intentions are good. When you’re late, I blame it on your character.

According to psychologists, when we get annoyed because people act differently from us it’s likely  a case of F.A.E. For example   you might say out loud or to yourself, don’t they realize it’s impolite to be late?  Instead of looking at the external situation, we put an emphasis on their personality characteristics to explain their behavior. Basically, I’m better than you. (Something to think about.)

My friend and I discussed why we think we need to question other’s motives; why not just assume they too have good intentions and mean no harm?

Imagine how much better our world would be if we all thought that way?

Lisbeth helps people improve their communication skills to build better their relationships with their employees and customers. She can be reached at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.


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By |2017-03-03T12:07:00+00:00July 26th, 2013|beliefs, Blog|3 Comments

About the Author:

Lisbeth Calandrino is an award winning trainer, entrepreneur, and blogger and has spent over twenty years developing custom tailored marketing and customer service programs for businesses. Her recently published book, Red Hot Customer Service, 35 Sizzling Ways to Heat up Your Business and Ignite Your Sales defines the steps necessary to build a competitive advantage and turn great companies into unforgettable or red hot companies. Lisbeth admits that much of her knowledge came from her Italian grandfather who despite very little formal education and a limited English vocabulary, managed to became both successful and wealthy. Lisbeth has wonderful stories about Grandpa DiBiagio’s and her time spent learning how to managing Grandpa’s fruit stand. Because of Lisbeth’s experience as a business owner, having been the managing partner and owner of 7 furniture and carpet stores for 14 years, she is able to bring her extensive business knowledge and experience to all of her clients. Lisbeth’s awards include executive of the year award from the International Executive Association, Albany chapter (a business networking group) and first place honors in an international marketing contest for alternative medicine. A two time cancer survivor, she has spoken extensively about her experiences of cancer, offering words of comfort and inspiration. As an activist, Lisbeth has initiated and contributed to many charitable causes. She has worked with at-risk youth, spoken out against injustice and advocated to and helped to build resources for women. As a presenter, Lisbeth Calandrino is highly motivational, information-rich, and very entertaining. Her acute business sense, contagious enthusiasm, positive energy and fun sense of humor make her a dynamic presenter. Lisbeth is a member of New York, Historic Albany Foundation, educational director of Business Referrals Networking Group and member of the board of directors of the Animal Protective Foundation of Scotia, New York.


  1. Peter Whtie July 27, 2013 at 10:29 am

    I`me got it….. This is a good topic. Customers who pust my buttons. and stress behind the counter. What not to say to a customer went they push your buttons.

  2. Victoria Nye-Cordi July 29, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    It’s all about action & reaction!

  3. Lisbeth Calandrino July 29, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    It sounds like you’ve got it in a nutshell. How do you handle it?

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