Coaching Tip: Shifting from Finding to Managing Triggers

Your Challenge
  • I know my triggers that lead to counterproductive results. How do I manage my responses and avoid such impact?
  • I am not a child or a teenager who can be molded into anything new. I am, who I am. But unfortunately, that is not helping me change my current reality.
Our Advice

You found your triggers:

In our last post - Coaching Tip: Find Your Triggers, you must have learned about the simple technique of identifying your triggers. 

As a quick reiteration, using the IF and THEN statement followed by analysis helped you to identify your triggers:

"IF this happens...
THEN this happens..."

For example, IF I am at the head office (place) surrounded by all the executives (people), THEN I feel overwhelmed (emotional state) and tend to behave like an introvert (behavior) and therefore, don't speak at the meetings (result). Executives think that I have nothing to contribute (counterproductive impact). 

The analysis could have highlighted some of the possible reasons/WHY's. For example, fear of being judged, lack of knowledge, etc.


After defining a trigger, were you able to replace your old habit with a newly defined one by managing your trigger?

The analysis of your trigger and its related components is the key to understanding the fundamental shift of behavior. Once you know the WHY, then you can do the WHAT and HOW.

The new habit needs to be defined by intentionality and some actions towards getting a positive result. To continue with the example above, here is how it may look like as you try to manage your trigger with intentionality: 

IF I am at the head office (place) surrounded by all the executives (people), THEN I feel more empowered (emotional state) to have an opportunity to showcase my potential by sharing valid and valuable suggestions, and asking powerful questions that I have prepared for (behavior) and contributing by timely speaking up (result). Executives will be happy to see the shift in my behavior and acknowledge my contribution (productive impact). 

Assuming that the WHY for the above situation would include fear of being judged and lack of knowledge, then the proactive behavior of preparation and shifting the mindset from being overwhelmed to seeing the opportunity to showcase talent does the trick for you. Also, accepting the fact that some triggers might not change at all is a good way of moving forward. For example, all executives will anyway be at the head office. Where else? But your responses to the triggers can definitely change or shift.

If you are struggling with a trigger then you need to make the shifts regardless of your age, experience, and a different mindset. It is not a matter of ego. It is the matter of having a growth-mindset.

"If nothing changes, then nothing changes."
  -Please Step Forward, You are About to Change

As you define new habits as above, you need to experiment with them. There is no need to be overwhelmed by embedding a new habit. Try these actions:

1. Begin small: Choose one (1) trigger at a time. Do not try to fix all triggers at once. Remember to focus and master one at a time and then move to the next. The key to choosing your triggers wisely is to prioritize them.

2. Find an easy start-point: If you are going to try a new behavior towards someone, then ensure that the person is up for it and is willing to cut you some slack. Otherwise, just choose a person with whom nothing is going very good anyway and there is nothing to lose.

3. Find a habit-partner: It is wise to find a habit-partner who can offer timely feedback on your efforts in embedding new habits. Such a person(s) is more of a "critical friend" or even a group that can offer you some frequent insights. Check-in with them regularly as you progress. Such a critical friend(s) will provide you with the sounding board and emotional conditions to achieve your goals through encouragement, motivation and authentic feedforward.

Our Recommendation

Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts--Becoming the Person You Want to Be

As Marshall Goldsmith points out, our reactions don’t occur in a vacuum. They are usually the result of unappreciated triggers in our environment—the people and situations that lure us into behaving in a manner diametrically opposed to the colleague, partner, parent, or friend we imagine ourselves to be. These triggers are constant and relentless and omnipresent. The smell of bacon wafts up from the kitchen, and we forget our doctor’s advice on lowering our cholesterol. Our phone chirps, and we glance instinctively at the glaring screen instead of looking into the eyes of the person we are with. So often the environment seems to be outside our control. Even if that is true, as Goldsmith points out, we have a choice in how we respond.

In Triggers, his most powerful and insightful book yet, Goldsmith shows how we can overcome the trigger points in our lives, and enact meaningful and lasting change.