You may have heard this acronym (H.A.L.T.T.) before but if not, get ready to feel empowered! It turns out there are optimal and inopportune times to communicate. This post focuses on the latter. The good news is some things are in your control, which means that you can reduce the number of times you walk away from an exchange asking yourself “What the heck happened?”

Here are 5 internal contributors to unsatisfying communication with the self and others…

1. H = Hungry. If you are hungry, you cannot focus well on other needs. A hungry state can make one grouchy and short tempered, this is not the time to work on a problem with a spouse, discipline a child, or engage in introspection. Get some food then give it a try, you are garaunteed to get further with a little food in the belly.

2. A = Angry. When angry, it is difficult to listen, literally. There is blood pounding in our ears, a racing heart, and sometimes ringing in the head to hear over. Our breathing gets shallow and we want to fight or flee. In a state like this, no matter what you learn, it will not sink in or be good enough because defenses will be high. In this case, you need to express your anger before trying to get to anything else. If you can’t find a healthy way to do this, try drinking 16 oz of water, then exercise, cry or go to the restroom–literally get it out of your system.

3. L = Lonely. You might not have thought about it before but being lonely is a state that can make healthy communication more difficult. For one, it is draining and can motivate us to be clingy. What is more, what we are lonely for is not always what we cling to, making it even more difficult for our need to be met. Plus, we can turn into whiners, saying things like “of course you don’t, nobody cares about me.” This is a really bad time to approach our spouse about some financial problem or to try something new, failure will seem inevitable. Face your loneliness before trying to face anything else.

4. T = Tired. Approach communication with the idea that tiredness colors how you hear and experience the words of yourself and others. How it feels in the body can vary from person to person but tiredness can be accompanied with body aches, headaches, tingling, and even nausea. What not to do in this situation is to stay up all night wrestling with a miscommunication because you are afraid it is bad to go to sleep with a fight on your hands–it may actually help! If you are having trouble sleeping, sleepy time teas can do the trick.

5. T= Triggered. You may feel a reaction in your body and not know what is going on, this can mean you are triggered. Triggers have all sorts of sources and can generate a variety of intense emotional responses, such as sadness, outrage, or even disgust. In some way, you have been reminded of a past pain. What is key to notice is that whatever your reponse, it is out of porportion with what is actually occurring. This means that no matter what occurs next will not address the issue because you have journeyed elsewhere.

Now that you have this easy to remember acronym, you may be able to avoid many uncomfortable communications. Please post success comments if you have used this effectively. I look forward to your comments.

Print HandoutHALTT handout

Adapted from:
The Middle Way Parent Program
Copyright * 1999



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