What Triggers You?


Recently, I met with a couple for a session on communication. The wife was frustrated with her husband’s obstinate behavior. She described his highly competitive nature in golf, football, and their son’s basketball games but said he would not even consider playing board games with her and the kids. It didn’t make sense to her why he would not participate.
Many times, we prance around in our daily lives with blinders on. In the above scenario, we discovered that the husband has the talent of Competition in his Top 5 strengths. He clearly loves areas where he can compete, especially when he is the victor, but had never stopped to ask the question, “Why will I not play board games with my family?” Knowing that individuals with the talent of Competition will often not attempt something they know they cannot win, I inquired about the type of games his family enjoyed. All of the games had to do with verbal skills – Scrabble, Boggle, and Bananagrams were some of their favorites. Interestingly, he confessed that he was poor at verbal processing and these games frustrated him. He wasn’t a strong player and he certainly couldn’t achieve first place, so he chose to sit out, not participate, and be withdrawn. He never understood that his insecurity coupled with his talent of Competition in the basement was driving his negative behavior.
The Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment is a great way to put some language around our triggers and frustrations. Having this language can often help us dig deeper and think differently about our current human conflicts.

Here are some common triggers I have seen over the last four years:

The talent of Responsibility is frustrated when someone does not keep their word.
The talent of Harmony is overwhelmed when office politics become emotionally volatile.
The talent of Empathy is thrown off-kilter when told that emotions should not be felt between the hours of 8:00 – 5:00.
The talent of Strategic is bored when their work has no variety or freedom of creativity.
The talent of Woo is upset when it cannot win someone over. To be frank with you, this happened to me recently. There are situations when no matter what I do, there is someone who just does not like or respect me. It is difficult and has caused me many sleepless nights. It occurred to me recently to just tell my Woo to hush. Stop worrying about being liked and move on. The Woo’s need for approval is actually causing me tremendous stress. It is time for me to take my own advice.

If we can’t put a finger on what’s triggering us, we can never learn to adjust our negative behavior. Take a Gallup Strengths assessment here and let us help you identify how your strengths can work best for you.

“You cannot correct what you are not willing to confront.”