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Hot-Button-Topics - What are They and How to Avoid Them?

By: Jack Claridge - Updated: 6 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Stress Understanding Stress Management

You may not realise it but each and every day you – and millions of others like you – engage in topics which are considered ‘hot button topics’ and which can lead to the onslaught of a bout of stress.

What is a Hot Button Topic?

Think of something that really upsets or annoys you and this could be considered to be a hot button topic. There are so many topics that fall into this category it would be foolish to try and list them all here but below are the most common:
  • Finances
  • Politics
  • Religion
  • Work

As mentioned previously the list is potentially endless but the aforementioned are the most likely to get your blood boiling. Indeed so much so that they – and other topics like them – are referred to as ‘Hot Button Topics’.

Many people might say they are passionate about a particular subject and they may well be but for others those topics can be a source of stress and anxiousness. Money is a particular topic that causes millions of people stress every day. Some have too much but for the most part many don’t have enough so it brings with it it’s own stress and more so when the lack of money needs to be discussed.

What Angers Me and What Stresses Me?

There is a difference although anger can turn to stress especially if something that angers you cannot be dealt with in a manner you are comfortable and happy with. As we have mentioned money is a particular stressful factor of many people’s lives and so to often is employment. You may not be happy at your work and a discussion with others along similar lines may well bring this to the fore. Discussing the problem is one thing but discussing it in the presence of others and having no control over how the conversation continues can lead to stress. It can feel as though you are being ganged up on.

How Do I Avoid Hot Button Topics?

It can be difficult of that there is no doubt because often someone will start a discussion and ask you to participate. It isn’t always easy to get up and walk away so how do you deal with the problem?

You could ask not to become involved in the conversation and explain your reasons or you could excuse yourself and make a hasty retreat. One thing is for sure though embroiling yourself in such a discussion with only cause you more stress.

It is worth noting also that some people will deliberately start a particular discussion if they think it will upset you. You should be able to tell easily enough who these people are and where possible avoid them. It is often the people and not the topic that cause the problem and that is something worth bearing in mind.

Hot Button Topics in the Work Place

Many companies now operate a policy where certain topics are not to be discussed in the workplace. These topics more often than not will include:

  • Race & Racial Issues
  • Religion
  • Politics
  • Sexual Orientation

It may seem unfair that you cannot debate certain issues in the workplace but these rules are in place for a good reason and that reason is so as not to antagonise or upset individuals who have strong views either for or against.

It is wise to remember that if you encounter this problem at work you should broach the subject with your employer or supervisor as such conversations – especially if persistent – can be construed as harassment.

Consult your employee handbook if you have one for more information on how to best deal with the issue of harassment in the workplace.

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What if it's my supervisor that keeps bringing up the topic, what then? I've told him numerous time that talking about religion drives me insane but he won't listen and now I think he's doing it on purpose. Should I go above him and speak to my employer?
Mike - 17-May-12 @ 10:22 AM
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