There are five hot buttons included in our online Hot Button test:Conflict Dynamics Profiles, Training and Workshops at Talent Tools

  • Abrasive

  • Aloof

  • Self-Centered

  • Unappreciative

  • Untrustworthy

These are but a subset of the total Hot Button test included in the Conflict Dynamics Profile (CDP) so you may have other hot buttons as well.

In addition to hot buttons the CDP provides a comprehensive overview of both constructive and destructive responses to conflict as well as organisational perspectives on conflict behaviours. We invite you to learn more about the CDP instrument, reports and training.

Below you will find information about your particular hot button, and how to cool it. This information is taken from the book, Managing Conflict Dynamics-A Practical Approach, which comes with the CDP. and provides practical advice for how to deal more effectively with conflict.

Your hot button is UNTRUSTWORTHY

The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Untrustworthy people are exploitative, manipulative, and dishonest. They use other people for their own purposes and may be quite willing to deceive and cheat. They may try to undercut colleagues, or deliberately sabotage others' work by, for instance, keeping important information to themselves. They may attempt to take credit for others' successes.

Either deliberately or indirectly, untrustworthy individuals undermine others' efforts, success, authority, and feelings of self-worth. Clearly, untrustworthy people lack not only honesty and ethics, but also compassion and empathy.

Cooling Strategies

Begin with Reflection Questions.
  • Why is the untrustworthy Button Hot for me rather than Cool?
  • The next time my untrustworthy Hot Button is pushed, how do I want to feel? How do I want to respond?
  • Why might the untrustworthy person be acting this way (angry, envious, lacks self-confidence, anxious, lacks integrity, etc.)?
  • In what alternative ways do I want the untrustworthy button pusher to behave?
  • Given my understanding of my untrustworthy Hot Button and the button pusher, which Cooling Strategies would be most useful?

Clarify the situation by distinguishing among types of dishonesty. Are the dishonest acts:

  • Intentionally or unintentionally committed?
  • Acts of omission or commission?
  • Major or minor breaches of trust?
  • Violations of your personal moral code or ethical standards?
  • Violations of the organization's code of ethics?
  • Illegal or quasi-illegal actions?


  • Who is being harmed (you, others, the organization, community or society)?
  • In what ways?
  • Why or for what ends?
  • How problematic, unethical, or offensive is the behavior?

Ascertain whether you somehow initially caused trust to be broken. If so:

  • Acknowledge and explain.
  • Apologise and ask for forgiveness.
  • Promise that it won't happen again
  • Keep your promise; be fair honest, fair, and ethical
  • Recognise that while trust can be destroyed with a single act, it grows back slowly. Be patient; this process is likely to require repeated efforts.

Confront an untrustworthy person in as non-accusatory way as possible by calmly explaining:

  • Your goal is to stop unwanted behaviour, not to punish, insult, or offend.
  • You believe your values were violated, and you feel hurt and used.
  • While you value him/her as a person and a co-worker, such behaviour is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.
  • You, as well as the organisation, require honesty, fairness, integrity, and credibility.

Protect yourself. "The best armor is to keep out of range" (Italian proverb).

  • Be wary and aware.
  • Resist becoming involved in others' unethical behaviour.
  • Listen for hidden messages, particularly in comments intended to be humorous.
  • Keep all interactions limited and conducted as much as possible via written means.
  • Keep a logbook and document everything. Store these notes off-site.
  • Be sure the necessary people, particularly your superiors, are aware of your efforts, contributions, ideas, the status of your projects, etc. Notify them yourself rather than relying on possibly untrustworthy others.

Because of the seriousness (and potential liability) of charging someone with dishonest or unethical behaviour, be very certain of your case before informing your superiors (see Managing Conflict Dynamics-A Practical Approach, which comes with the CDP.  page 108 of the ). In particular, consider:

  • What are the costs to you if you take action?
  • Is there a practical alternative?
  • Do others share your assessment? Would they support you in a complaint?
  • Create an atmosphere of honesty, openness, and integrity.
  • Acknowledge that rules, regulations, structure, and control can often be replaced with trust.
  • Give trust and loyalty to gain trust and loyalty. Empower others to lead, make decisions, etc.
  • Be forgiving (but not naive). Allow second chances.
  • Be sure you and others understand and abide by the organisation's code of ethics and standards of integrity.
  • If the organisation doesn't have a code of ethics, volunteer to help establish one.

Be a role model.

  • Act with honesty and integrity.
  • Endorse and live by a strong code of personal and organisational ethics.
  • Showcase and reward others for their work, efforts, and integrity.

Dynamic Fact: Our research finds that for everyone in the workplace - male, female, manager or subordinate - the hottest (most upsetting) Hot Button in the workplace is untrustworthiness.

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