Author Topic: Dealing with berserk buttons  (Read 3434 times)

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Garden Goblin

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Dealing with berserk buttons
« on: January 23, 2013, 02:26:03 PM »
Since a good scenario exists from a movie, I'm just going to use that as the example -

In Firefly, there was a debate going on regarding the course of action.  Jayne vehmenently disagreed with Mal's chosen course of action, and asked Mal how many of his comrades he'd brought out alive from the war.  Mal went quiet, Zoe said to Jayne 'you want to leave this room', and Jayne responded 'd*** right I do' and left.

Given the characters, Zoe handled it perfectly, because Jayne knew the question would set Mal off.  However, in reality, we don't always have access to scripts and backstories.

When a situation occurs in which someone presses a berserk button, what is the best course of action for letting that someone know they need to back off fast and preferably flee for their lives before the person they were addressing snaps?

bah12

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Re: Dealing with berserk buttons
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2013, 02:30:16 PM »
Maybe it's because I haven't seen the movie, but I'm a little confused.  Given the example, I'm not sure I understand the question.

Dragonflymom

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Re: Dealing with berserk buttons
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2013, 02:30:38 PM »
Ideally, in polite society, people should control themselves from snapping and going berserk.

But since situations aren't always ideal, I think a very quick and blatant beandipping subject change is your best bet to diffuse the situation quickly.
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Mr NiceGuy

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Re: Dealing with berserk buttons
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2013, 02:32:42 PM »
Off topic - MAN I love firefly.

On topic - I have a problem with the idea that beserking behavior is somehow acceptable and that the people in the room should be warning the soon to be victim instead of calming down the person about to go on a homicidal tear.

Whether intentional or not, people are going to step on your toes in conversation.  They will joke about something that is deadly serious to you or in the heat of an argument they may decide to bring up a 'forbidden topic' in order to cut you as deeply as possible.  Still, priority number one for the offended person is to calm themselves down.  If you are standing by in a situation such as this, I would focus on calming down the offended party while telling the perpetrator that they're not helping and should probably leave in order to diffuse the situation. 

If they insist on pressing, I would then remove *myself* from the situation and let them deal with the consequences (which should be a verbal tongue whupping and not any sort of physical assault).

MrTango

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Re: Dealing with berserk buttons
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2013, 02:35:24 PM »
If I'm going to try to save the button-pusher from the Berserker going off, I'm usually pretty direct.  For example: "Jack, back off for a second."

I'll admit that sometimes, I don't bother with a warning.  I just take a step back and let the button-pusher suffer the consequences of their words.

Garden Goblin

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Re: Dealing with berserk buttons
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2013, 02:35:53 PM »
Maybe it's because I haven't seen the movie, but I'm a little confused.  Given the example, I'm not sure I understand the question.

Basically, Jayne 'trolled', and the response was going to be way more ballistic than he anticipated.

Which is essentially what happened in the real life situation what occurred.  Someone said something to get a rise out of someone else, but was going to get a volcano instead of a sparkler.  There was a couple moments in which the person whose button got pressed was struggling to keep hold of himself, and it was deemed best to get the troll out of the room so the person could get their deep breaths in and calm down.

Alpacas

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Re: Dealing with berserk buttons
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2013, 02:37:01 PM »
Someone could use the "cat is on fire" method.
Instead of saying "I need to go. The cat is on fire." one could politely suggest "You better  go and check on the cat now."

I saw a similar scenario on Sunday.
Family dinner with my brother his GF and her family. GF and her Dad started arguing, loudly and when she didn't react to my brothers "How about we all calm down." He excused himself to feed the birds.

Whether intentional or not, people are going to step on your toes in conversation.  They will joke about something that is deadly serious to you or in the heat of an argument they may decide to bring up a 'forbidden topic' in order to cut you as deeply as possible.  Still, priority number one for the offended person is to calm themselves down.  If you are standing by in a situation such as this, I would focus on calming down the offended party while telling the perpetrator that they're not helping and should probably leave in order to diffuse the situation. 

Coincidently  i received the request to cool down a friendship today because i stepped on somebodys toes yesterday, with something i said.

onyonryngs

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Re: Dealing with berserk buttons
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2013, 02:40:59 PM »
The person who has the hot button issue needs to be the one to control himself.  That person needs to take control and say "This is a hot button issue for me so I'm going to step away now before I say something I will regret."

Cat-Fu

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Re: Dealing with berserk buttons
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2013, 03:11:37 PM »
The person who has the hot button issue needs to be the one to control himself.  That person needs to take control and say "This is a hot button issue for me so I'm going to step away now before I say something I will regret."

I agree completely. TBH I think getting in the middle like Zoe did is more likely to make things worse in the real world.
“Poetry is a sword of lightning, ever unsheathed, which consumes the scabbard that would contain it.” PBS

Betelnut

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Re: Dealing with berserk buttons
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2013, 03:12:48 PM »
The person who has the hot button issue needs to be the one to control himself.  That person needs to take control and say "This is a hot button issue for me so I'm going to step away now before I say something I will regret."

I agree with this.  Unless you know someone in and out, you will not know his or her hot button issues.  If someone knows he/she will explode if a topic if broached, he or she needs to let people know before the situation arises.
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Twik

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Re: Dealing with berserk buttons
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2013, 03:19:05 PM »
Well, there are some hot-button issues that would be more difficult than others to have control over - those, for example that dealt with real death, destruction or pain, not just a dig against someone's favourite sports team. In which case, I think that a third party, knowing that someone is pushing hard, deliberately or not, on someone else's traumatic scars, is justified in trying to separate the parties before something bad happens.
My cousin's memoir of love and loneliness while raising a child with multiple disabilities will be out on Amazon soon! Know the Night, by Maria Mutch, has been called "full of hope, light, and companionship for surviving the small hours of the night."

onyonryngs

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Re: Dealing with berserk buttons
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2013, 03:23:15 PM »
Well, there are some hot-button issues that would be more difficult than others to have control over - those, for example that dealt with real death, destruction or pain, not just a dig against someone's favourite sports team. In which case, I think that a third party, knowing that someone is pushing hard, deliberately or not, on someone else's traumatic scars, is justified in trying to separate the parties before something bad happens.

I guess I don't understand people who get to the "something bad happens" point.  We're adults, we should act like it.  Blowing up and being threatening, etc.  is not right in any situation.  If you can't handle your traumatic scars, then get some help so that you aren't a danger to others if the subject comes up.

Garden Goblin

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Re: Dealing with berserk buttons
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2013, 03:34:08 PM »
In this instance, what the person said was skipping merrily over the line of polite conversation anyway.  Like I said, he was trying to get a reaction, he just didn't realize the strength of the reaction he was going to get.

Pulling from a real life scenario - Buzz Aldrin.  Walking up to someone like him and making harassing comments in front of his family was not in any way an acceptable thing to do.  However, I doubt the person who did it realized Buzz Aldrin was going to skip over the 'get out of my face' and go directly to 'punch to the head'.

I admit, there is a part of me that wants to just sit back, make popcorn, and watch the well deserved thrashing.  But since that's also the part of me that wants to key the cars of folks who park in the firelane and dump soda on the folks who talk at the theater, I tend not to trust it's decision making skills on the etiquette issue.

On the event that inspired this post, a friend broke the incoming tension by saying, 'Breath, Joe.  It's way to difficult to get rid of a body when it's -10 out'.  Funny...but possibly not polite.  It stopped Joe for a couple seconds while the other party was more or less dragged out of the room.

I guess I don't understand people who get to the "something bad happens" point.  We're adults, we should act like it.  Blowing up and being threatening, etc.  is not right in any situation.  If you can't handle your traumatic scars, then get some help so that you aren't a danger to others if the subject comes up.

This popped up when I went to post the above...and I think requires me to elaborate a bit more.

The troll in question was joking about driving drunk.  Joe was getting annoyed and said 'knock it off, that's not funny' in a very tense voice.  The troll then made a comment of 'well if folks can't dodge cars they should stay off the sidewalk'.  Joe's son was killed a few years ago by a drunk driver, while standing on a street corner waiting for the light to change.

IMHO, the incoming thrashing was not entirely unwarranted, but...well... violence really isn't the best answer in most cases.

Twik

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Re: Dealing with berserk buttons
« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2013, 03:45:07 PM »
Funny, Garden Goblin, I was going to make a post about Buzz!

While one may say that adults should never react violently (even verbally violent), there are going to be people who do. In which case, third parties who know that buttons are being pressed either unintentionally (as in the case with your friend), or deliberately (as in the case of Buzz and Bart Sibrel), should do what they can, within reason, to defuse the situation.

One should not let one's friend end up with criminal charges because you stood back and let someone poke their scar with a verbal stick. As you say, violence is rarely a suitable solution, and if you can take steps to prevent it, more power to you.
My cousin's memoir of love and loneliness while raising a child with multiple disabilities will be out on Amazon soon! Know the Night, by Maria Mutch, has been called "full of hope, light, and companionship for surviving the small hours of the night."

Hmmmmm

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Re: Dealing with berserk buttons
« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2013, 04:24:23 PM »
I think this question jumps from an etiquette issue to one of social responsibility.  If you see someone has inadvertently dropped a lit a match in the middle of the woods you don't sit back and watch the flames.  You extinguish the match before it creates a combustion. 

Each person will need to decide the best method for dealing with the situation. At times humor will work while other times it might fan the flames. Telling the person who set off the situation that their remark was over the line and they should leave or apologize might be the best approach.