Avoid Acting in the Heat of the Moment

In the heat of the moment!

If you made a list of the profoundly regrettable actions you have taken, how many of them came “in the heat of the moment?”

I was reading an article on “self control” yesterday and the simple advice provided by the author Randy Conley was to avoid acting “in the heat of the moment.”

Think about it: if you dig deep to recall what was going on in your regrettable moments, you weren’t thinking with full energy or strength.

You may have been tired from a hectic pace or a long day. Perhaps you were hungry. Maybe somebody tripped your anger cord and you were reacting with frustration. Maybe you were emotional, either good or bad, and it caused you to let your guard down and you ended up doing something that was out of character.

I know for certain when I go through my list, I wasn’t listening to my “better angels.”

I was discussing with a friend today the concept of “courageous communication” – the discipline of thoughtfully confronting difficult issues in order to improve relationships and teams. Like so many of us, the thought of discussing difficult things creates fear of everything that can go wrong. My experience is that practicing courageous communication really does improve things. The more you do it, the more you have confidence in the process and the more likely it is you will do it again.

But, I noted for my friend that courageous communication is best done planned, not spontaneously. When something challenging has to be communicated, you get to choose the time, the setting and the words. You get to role play it a bit before you do it “live.”

None of that is “in the heat of the moment.” Many regrettable things would not be done if we had the ability to wait for a time of full energy or strength. It’s not procrastination. It’s purposefully preparing for an important encounter.