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Book Review - Hot Buttons

by Sybil Evans and Sherry Suib Cohen
Cliff Street Books, 2000
Review by Diana Pederson
Sep 20th 2002

Hot Buttons is a book that should be on everyone's bookshelf.  This book would help coworkers, family members, siblings, marriage partners, and parents and children learn how to resolve conflict.  The authors appear to believe that much conflict is the result of people pressing each other's hot buttons.

Hot buttons are emotional triggers set off by what people do and say to others.  Each person has his or her own set of hot buttons.  Once the button is pushed, people tend to explode in angry ways.  This leads to everything from road rage to divorce.

The book is filled with illustrations of people pushing someone's hot button and the responses.  It teaches people how to stand back, analyze the situation, and find a new way of communicating the same information without triggering a hot button in the other person.  After a thorough reading of this book, I feel it pinpoints the cause of most interpersonal conflict.

The book includes the following chapters: 

1. What's a Hot Button. 

2. Hot Buttons Everywhere!

3. Hot buttons:  Hazardous to Your Health! 

4. What Pushes Your Buttons?

5. Hot Buttons and Intimacy. 

6. Hot Buttons and the Family. 

7. Hot Buttons and Children.

8.  Hot Buttons and Friendship. 

9. Hot Buttons and the Workplace.

10. The Magic of Your Mind. 

Each person is sure to find at least one chapter that helps them resolve ongoing conflict.

The book contains many examples of conversations that illustrate how not to say things as well as how to say certain things to each other in a way that doesn't trigger the other person's hot button.  Through reading the chapter dealing with children, I realized that I was a hot button pushing mother.  No wonder my son was so irritated with me throughout his teenage years and even now that he is a young adult.  It brought me up short and made me rethink how I say some things to him.  I expect to turn to that chapter time and time again in the future as I watch him go through life activities such as selecting a wife and raising his own children.

I give this book my highest recommendation.  Reading it may well save you the expense of family counseling to resolve conflicts within the family. Every manager should read this book to help resolve workplace conflict. Reading this book could lead to a more peaceful existence for everyone.

© 2002 Diana Pederson


Diana Pederson lives in Lansing, Michigan.