Are People Pushing Your Buttons?

by Bill Denton

"Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you" (Eph. 4:31,32 NASV).

"Advertising deals in open sores: Fear. Greed. Anger. Hostility. You name the dwarfs and we play on every one. We play on all the emotions and on all the problems, from not getting ahead-to the desire to be one of the crowd. Everyone has a button. If enough people have the same button, you have a successful ad and a successful product."

-Ad executive Jerry Della Femina

I think Jerry Della Femina was overstating his case in order to make a point about advertising, but it is true that advertisers target human needs. The goal of a "good" ad is to motivate the purchase of a product or service. Perhaps the best way to do that is to tap into our "needs system." Effective ones identify some unfulfilled need or negative emotion and suggests that buying the product or service will help you get what you really want, which is satisfying that need or emotion. So, if you're convinced that you'll be popular driving that new red sports car, they might just sell it to you. Or if you're convinced that you'll be important if you wear that new suit, you'll probably put it on your credit card. It goes far beyond the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. It's those other needs that move you to shell out the big bucks. Advertisers want to push the button that opens your pocketbook.

He's right about the buttons in general. We all have them. Push the right one and we're sweet, happy, content, and life is good. Push the wrong button and we're sour, unhappy, distraught, and life is the pits. It sometimes seems that we're at the mercy of all the button-pushers in the world. We even know the people who habitually push the wrong buttons.

Some husbands and wives seemingly enjoy pushing the wrong buttons on their spouse. They know exactly how to create all sorts of havoc. The same is true with that one person where you work, or the neighbor down the street. It's not uncommon for there to be one or two at church who manage to always push your hot-buttons!

We even know it's coming. We go to great lengths to dodge the button-pushers. We avoid our spouse, if he/she is the person pushing the buttons. It's not uncommon for someone to work more than necessary, simply because it avoids getting their button pushed when they walk in the door at home. Others might get overly involved with the kids, with community activities, running around with friends or any number of other activities, just to minimize the contact with a spouse who pushes all the wrong buttons.

It's sometimes harder to do at work, but people may seclude themselves, avoiding interaction with co-workers who push their buttons all the time. People have even been known to stop attending church services in order to avoid the hassle of getting the wrong buttons pushed.

The Apostle Paul said that we should put away all those negative things. In more modern terminology, I think Paul would say, "Don't avoid button-pushers. Disconnect the button." That, by far, is a better solution. Do some people frequently push your anger button? Disconnect it!

Learn how to eliminate your anger response. Do others bring out some other really negative trait by pushing the wrong buttons? Learn how to disconnect them all. Stop allowing everyone else to be in control of your life. Put all the buttons under your own control. Disconnect altogether those that do you more harm than good. Here's good news for you-you can live without those buttons.

Copyright 2001, Dr. Bill Denton

All Rights Reserved