What Should You Do When Someone Pulls Your "Trigger"?


You have heard me share in previous articles on how negativity and unconscious fear activates the part of your brain that is not supportive of solutions, best decision making and creative of ideas. This is specifically referring to the part of the brain called the amygdala.

Too often, when a leader withdraws and ignores their emotions, they disrupt their ability to make good decisions, getting stuck on problems and often lashing out at poor team behaviour.

Whenever we experience survival zone emotion - sense fear or stress, our bodies shift into a sympathetic state and our minds limbic as we activate our fight or flight response. This means 3 things:

  • Physically - We begin to suppress immune markers (cortisol, a stress hormone, suppresses the immune system and elevates blood pressure)
  • Emotionally - We are less empathetic (stress reduces oxytocin in the body which is the chemical responsible for increasing empathy)
  • Mentally - We impair our own performance (fear impairs our decisive/ cognitive processes and causes us to be less charismatic and a person of influence)

I believe there are 3 crucial ideas we must connect with in those moments where we become triggered, by events or individuals, which will help us keep our cool and stay on the road to epic performance:

1. Encourage diaphragmatic breathing. When we are triggered into fight or flight response, our breathing oscillation changes from deep expansive breaths to short shallow breathes; our focus affects our physiology. Diaphragmatic breathing instigates the vagus nerve which, in turn, stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system and dampens the arousal of the amygdala. In a frantic and overwhelming workplace, deep breathing assists to promote empowering behaviour by drawing on our more rational minds instead of remaining in a hyper vigilant state where perhaps we might say or do something that is not in accordance with our personal values.

2. Become more self aware. When we are aware of our emotions, we begin to look "at" our emotions instead of "from" them. This is a super important point because an awareness of a trigger helps us to regulate an emotion by labeling strong negative or "away states". This heightens our ability to make better choices and encourages greater collaboration when working with others.

3. Exercise self compassion. Paying attention to our thoughts and feelings can greatly enhance engagement, trust and rapport. Studies show that people who are less sensitive to their own feelings are also less sensitive to the feelings of others. The definition of self compassion is how much kindness we demonstrate to ourselves under stress and when experiencing difficult situations. When we don't exercise self-compassion, we become disconnected from ourselves and promote judgment over empathy

One of the biggest mistakes individuals make is replacing unmet needs or objectives with blame or judgment. - Tweet This

When we communicate how we are feeling, people are less defensive and the chances of having our needs met increases.

I would love to hear your thoughts! What are your 3 most common triggers in the workplace that are consistent and noteworthy?


Benjamin Young

Speaker | Coach | Trainer | at Job Performance Coaching & Training

I help executives, managers & team leaders to influence human behaviour and in essence get more out of individuals and teams in terms of execution and results, sustainably. I help both leaders and employees improve excellence, energy & productivity in the workplace. I do this by teaching three specific skill sets: 1. Dealing with having too much to do 2. Staying cool under pressure 3. Influencing Behaviour -(Presenteeism, Absenteeism, Underperforming staff, Constructive Feedback)

Comments (1)
Jef Lippiatt

Jef Lippiatt, Owner at Startup Chucktown

Three of my triggers are, people who are unwilling to take feedback, people who are not teachable and those who diminish what other people bring to the project.