While driving home from work on a recent Friday, I was stopped by a police officer who claimed that I had made an illegal turn. I knew for a fact that I had turned with a green arrow, but because the attitude of the officer was very provoking, I simply said, “I am not going to argue with you.” She looked at me with surprise and returned to her vehicle with my information.

As I waited in my car for the officer to return with my license and registration, I replayed our conversation in several ways. Rather than insisting on my rightness, which would very likely have led to much stiffer consequences, I chose not to engage the officer. I disarmed her attitude by not letting it infect me. I did this because I have learned that proving myself right is less important than being civil and respectful in a conversation, especially when the other individual is clearly predisposed to provoke.

Don’t fall prey to someone else’s attitude. If someone is determined to prove you wrong, the instinctive reaction is to prove yourself right, but that approach will likely just pour gasoline on the fire. Instead, pause. Collect your faculties and respond in a cool, calm and collected manner. This is especially important if you are in a HALT situation…

H – hungry
A – angry
L – lonely
T – tired

At the end of a long week, I was exhausted when I saw the blue lights in my rear-view mirror. And I was angered at being falsely accused. Without applying the HALT principle, I would likely be making an unplanned court appearance.

The HALT principle also applies to decision-making; you should never make a big decision if you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired. You can probably think of good examples of bad decisions you have made under each of those conditions in the past. I know I can.

So the next time a boss, colleague, police officer or TSA agent comes at you with an attitude, remember to HALT, and then take the high road.

Clifford A. Bailey
speaker and CEO

This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 7th, 2011 at 8:12 am and is filed under Effectiveness, Emotional Intelligence, S.H.A.P.E.. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.