We’ve all been there. It’s usually after a long day week or in our case year and you have had enough. You need to address an issue with your spouse, neighbour or even friend. The issue has been bugging you for a while, but you have been procrastinating talking about it because it might cause some conflict. But something has triggered you and you have had enough.
10 minutes later you’re in a full-on argument, regretting you ever said anything.
Conflict in relationships is difficult. You want to clear the air but having hard and challenging conversations is uncomfortable to say the least. Many people try to avoid conflict as much as possible, but there are times when you just need to talk it out.
I want to introduce an acronym called H.A.L.T. It stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired. It’s a quick and easy reminder that if you feel any of these things you should halt, stop immediately and meet these needs prior to having difficult conversations.
Essentially, you shouldn’t have any meaningful or potentially conflict inducing conversations at the end of a workday, before you eat dinner after sitting alone in your home office after a bad night’s sleep. That’s pretty much a recipe for disaster.
But that’s what we do. Almost every time.
We avoid difficult conversations when feeling good, but when we are stressed, had enough, agitated and tired we blurt out what is deep inside because we can’t keep it in. And what is the outcome? Often it’s offence and hurt feelings.
It’s natural to want to avoid conflict and if things are going good, why wreck them and bring up an issue that might disrupt this good vibe going on. However, if we or the person we are talking to are in a HALTed state, Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired, then you can bet the outcome will be more conflict.
When you are in the HALTED state you are much more likely to react to situations than to respond. You are already in a state of stress so your body and mind are in full defensive mode and as we discussed in the video of flipping your lid your brain is no-longer processing information with the logic centre of your brain so you are much more likely to reactive, rather then responsive.
The first step is being self-aware and recognizing when you are in a HALTed state.
We can thank the 90’s for something. That’s when the word hangry became a part of our vocabulary and boosted awareness of the emotional impacts of being hungry. Now, adopted into the Oxford English dictionary Hangry is a commonly understood concept of being agitated as a result of being hungry.
Anger is a secondary emotion. What I mean by that is that when we feel angry we are feeling that way as a result of feeling threatened.
Ever heard of the fight flight freeze response? Well, Anger is a fight response. We feel threatened or challenged and so respond with anger. When we are in this state our logical centre of the brain is hijacked with a flood of endorphins and we do not process information the same way. We react without thinking logically or about consequences. Ever said something in the heat of the moment only to regret it later? Yep… that’s the adrenaline hijack
So when you’re feeling angry use the old” you got nothing good to say, better not say anything at all.” motto
2020 the year the world felt Lonely. But we don’t need to be in the middle of a global pandemic and restricted social isolation to feel lonely. You can feel lonely in a crowded room.
Loneliness is about connection. And when we lose that connection, we are emotionally impacted.
We are created to be in relationship with others. I’m not talking about being an extrovert or introvert, but about having those relationship needs met, however big or small they are.
If you find yourself feeling lonely, or disconnected with the person you’re needing to talk to. First find some common ground. Find a way to connect with them. Or if necessary have your relationship needs met prior to talking with them.
When we are lonely we can be easily hurt, offended and feel attacked. And none of these produce the positive results.
Tired isn’t just having enough sleep, we can become warn-out from a hard day and need down-time to replenish.
When you are tired your judgement is impaired and you have poor concentration. I can attest to the impact on mood and lowered ability to pay attention.
When you are tired you are not your best self and you and the person on the other end of the conversation deserves your best self.
When you find yourself in a HALTed state, stop, practice self-care or soul-care and meet those needs.
And prior to having a challenging conversation check-in with yourself, and reflect on the other person. Are you or they, in a HALTed state? If so, be intentional to meet those needs and plan a time to connect later.