Why is it that we hear a car alarm going off these days and barely think twice about it? We barely hear it. In contrast, 15 years ago we would have stopped everything we were doing to see what was going on. Why do I bring this up? The distraction of the car alarm mirrors the noise that takes place all around us in 2014. Why do I say there is noise everywhere? Think about a restaurant as an example. You go to a restaurant and music is playing, televisions are on, info is scrolling across the TV screens, people…
In teaching a college-level class recently, my students and I were exposed to a great book by Laurie Beth Jones titled "Jesus, Entreprenuer." One component of the book stood out to me as a good one to blog about, as it proposed a new way to think about decision making. This is referred to as the “SHALT” rule. It applies to our decision making and communications. SHALT is an acronym for Sad, Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. So, since this blog is about human communications, let me explain my take on this. How many times have we said something we wish we would not have? How many instances have we written something that we later regret? How often have we acted in a manner in which we wished we could have a “do over?” I know I have had these situations in my life and so have you. Why? We are human.
So, the “SHALT” rule is one that can help us become better in our decision making and communications. If you are sad, it is better not to make a big decision because you are not thinking 100 percent. Instead, find a time when you are feeling better and then (with a clear head) make the decision. Second, many of us get quite grumpy when we are hungry. So, if you have not eaten, it is likely you will not be thinking clearly and maysay or write something you may later regret. So, wait until that meal digests and then calmly express what you seek to communicate.
How about when we are angry? I know this is a big one for many of us. In the world of social media (online all the time) it is easy to fire off a tweet, Facebook post, text, or e-mail in a matter of seconds. You know the drill, when someone makes you mad—it is best to light into them right then and there. I am kidding. No, this is not the best thing to do. Like sadness, anger is simply an emotion that will settle itself in time, and you will thus be calmer and can be more objective in your communications. I can literally say, 90 percent of the time, that when I have ever written or said something “in the moment when angry” it has turned out to be something I have regretted as it did not come across the right way.
How about when you are lonely? Maybe you have not had a lot of time around people in recent weeks or are just bored in life. Again, this is not a good time to communicate or make decisions on important matters. Finally, what about when we get tired? After all, in our constantly connected world we get tired at some point. This is generally the time we feel great stress and need to get some rest so we can think clearly. So, do not write or say something you will later regret due to being worn out. Instead, get some rest and approach everything from a fresh perspective.
So, there you have it. This is my take on the SHALT rule of thinking as it is related to communications and decision making in our lives. Does this mean you should always wait to say or write something? No. Does this mean you should always wait to make a decision? No. However, understanding that when we are feeling sad, hungry, angry, lonely or tired, can impact our decisions and communications. So what about you? Are there times when the SHALT rule could have helped you? Can it help you going forward?