Hot Buttons= Communication Breakdown

In another article, No Offense, but…, I harp on the importance or erasing the phrases “no offense” and “just kidding” from our teens’ vocabulary. I want clarify that I certainly don’t mean to imply that jokes are evil and should be eliminated entirely, just the ones that are obviously meant to put down or degrade another. In fact, I think joking and teasing are a natural and important part of adolescence. Too often I see teen girls who are so fragile that they fall apart at even the slightest poke to their ego.  We must encourage our girls to have a sense of humor about them selves! Being able to laugh at yourself exemplifies a deep confidence and a real sense of self that isn’t shattered by minor pokes and prods.

That being said, it is important to know your hot button issues and communicate them to those that your are close with. Let’s face it, we all have personal hot buttons— those sensitive topics that send us from 0 to 60 in just seconds, and are certain to make us feel insecure, embarrassed, betrayed, disappointed, ashamed… None of these emotions are productive, and can be easily avoided by pinpointing your hot buttons and putting your friends and family on notice.

For example, I have a client who is highly sensitive about her “thick legs.” She says that she has “cankles” and is embarrassed by the way they look. Her dad learned about this hot button the hard way: after making what he thought to be a harmless passing comment about her legs, my client exploded in tears and rage. By communicating our hot buttons to our friends and family, we save ourselves, and our circle, a whole lot of anguish.

Because we don’t always know someone’s hot spots, and sometimes don’t even know all of our own triggers, come up with a non-threatening way of communicating a hot button issue in the moment—a secret code works great! In my family, all we have to say is, “it’s one of those” and instantly we know to back off and maybe even apologize. Establish and implement a phrase like “hot spot” or “burn notice” in order to prevent a single comment from erupting into a meltdown.

Next time you feel stung about a sensitive topic, don’t just shut down. Chances are your friends and family aren’t mind readers, so give them a heads up. Directly communicate your sensitive areas and ask for the respect you deserve.

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