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May 15, 2023

HALT Before You Communicate

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I heard a really interesting framework around how to limit negative communication. Often times we say things we don’t mean, that we’ll later regret, and wonder why we even said it in the first place. We wonder what caused us to not have the self-control required to show up better in the moment.

When it comes to things you wish you wouldn’t have said, or said in a certain way, it’s usually a matter of feeling emotional. Our emotions bias our logical reasoning as an environment that shapes our thoughts. It happens unconsciously in emotional moments causing us to misrepresent our truth.

So before you communicate, especially when you’re feeling impulsive, halt. Pause. Take a minute to audit how you’re feeling. In particular reflect on these 4 things:

HALT is an acronym - Hungry, angry, lonely, tired. When you’re feeling any of those things you’re more likely to make mistakes in your communication. When you feel any of these ways, you become more likely to say something you didn’t mean because your mind is fixated on addressing specific needs in the short-term that conflict with what might be best in the long term.

This is in my mind humanity’s fatal flaw - We have evolved to do the things that serve us in the short term (immediate gratification) but that often does more harm than good in the long term (rejection of delayed gratification). 

But once you can label what’s happening, understand that in the moment you’re feeling hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, you can decrease this unconscious force. Simply by calling it out, you give your logical mind the information it needs to make the right decision, knowing how certain factors and feelings might be motivating things in certain ways.

Bringing this back to you - The next you time you feel agitated or like you’re getting impulsive or confrontational in a conversation, halt. Pause to reflect on how hungry, angry, lonely, or tired you might be. Connect the dots around how that might be causing you to relate with things a certain way. And if you feel like it’s not allowing you to represent your best self, now you know and you can choose to do something different.

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