Do you ever think about how you are influenced by your environment? What questions and remarks from coworkers, family, and friends cause you to respond in a certain way? I recommend you to pay attention to this sometime.

Why? Because awareness of your triggers can help you increase your effectiveness and your impact on those around you. To illustrate this, below you’ll find an example of situations where I have to pay attention not to respond too quickly.

The “Yes, but…” trigger

When someone tells me that something is too complicated, that triggers me. Often their sentences start with “Yes, but…” or “Yes, however…”. I am someone who looks at possibilities and I always want to make the most out of things. Therefore, my tendency, at moments like these, is to put a lot of energy into showing that person what the possibilities are.

Often this kind of conversation feels more like a monologue in which I lose a lot of energy. I have been taught that it’s better to give that energy to people who want you to think with them, who want to look for opportunities themselves as well. This, in turn, inspires me. Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t still fall for the same thing every now and again.

But enough about me! Below you’ll find a couple of the triggers we often encounter.

The Silence Trigger

I find this trigger very interesting. When others stay silent, many people have the tendency to fill up the void that arises. They start talking just to…talk. The beauty of this trigger is that you can actually use it to increase others’ assertiveness.

This is something we often tell executives. Just wait! Make use of the silence! That way there is room for others to take the initiative.

Will it always work? No! But in many cases, people come back with positive signals. Like coworkers who realize they have more to offer than they initially thought. And wouldn’t it be amazing to have more time for strategic issues because coworkers start to move around independently?

The Assignment Trigger

Some people get triggered when they (think) they get an assignment. The so-called Assignment Trigger causes them to instantly get ready. They start working on the assignment straight away to make it a success.

This is very pleasant and convenient for others, but how is it for you? Do you even have time to execute the assignment? Is it clear what is expected of you? Are additional questions necessary to know what the desired outcomes are? These are a couple of questions that you could ask before getting stuck with a heavy load of work.

The Question-Solution Trigger

There are people who can’t help but give a solution right after every question. But what if the person who asks the question has tried different things already? In a coaching role, this trigger is especially important to think about. Because in these cases, it may be wiser to come up with a counter question. “What have you tried already?” “What are you thinking about?” “What have you done in similar situations and did that lead to success?”

All these questions encourage someone to think about a solution themselves and can lead to more independent coworkers. If nothing comes out of these questions you can always chime in with your solutions.

The Complaint Trigger

Others’ complaints can be bothersome for many people. But for some, the deep sighs and the “I am having such a hard time” kind of sentences are exactly what appeals to their understanding. Their empathy, if you will. “Gosh, that is annoying! I can imagine that you’re having a hard time.” They respond without evaluating if these people are truly having a difficult time or if they are just complaining for the sake of complaining.

When you like to be known as the person who always has a sympathetic ear then please do give in to this trigger. However, if you feel like you are losing too much time to people who complain constantly, try to let it slide. Follow the example of the people we’ve described earlier; nod compassionately and continue with what you were doing before.

That concludes the triggers we often come across. I’d love to know what triggers you! Are they mentioned in this article?

This blog originally appeared on, and was written by Nicolien Dellensen, our Senior Consultant, behavioral specialist, organizational performance, and coaching practice expert. She’s creator and owner of the ’Sphere of Influence’, a comprehensive concept and 360 online tool about interactive dynamics. Join her and the rest of the team on our Time To Grow Global LinkedIn.