A few years ago, while still working for a government agency, I participated in a presentation on managing workplace stress at a conference attended by over 300 technical professionals. Our presentation was last on the schedule.
I sat through multiple talks on topics about which I was totally ignorant, and, to be truthful, quite uninterested. As I listened, I became aware that one professional acronym after another was being used. Glancing around the large conference room, I had the feeling I was the only one who had no clue what they meant.
Hoping it appeared I was taking notes, I began jotting down every acronym familiar to me, identifying a couple that had become helpful tools.
An acronym is a word or phrase formed from the first letters of other words.
Acronyms are used in:
- Government (CIA – Central Intelligence Agency;)
- Business (AKA – Also Known As)
- Identifying an individual (SWF – Single White Female) or organization (AMA – American Medical Association)
- Describing (OTC – over the counter) or informing (PST – Pacific Standard Time)
- Expressing emotion (LOL – Laughing Out Loud)
- Texting or Messaging, (BTW – by the way;).
Today’s post isn’t a tutorial on acronyms, but I’d like to share three acronyms I’ve found beneficial.
The first is commonly used in 12-step groups and helps people in recovery identify relapse warning signs. Any 12-step participant will recognize the acronym HALT, reminding him/her to ask:
- Am I HUNGRY?
- Am I ANGRY?
- Am I LONELY?
- Am I TIRED?
A “Yes” answer is reason to stop and assess a vulnerable emotional state.
The next acronym is one my friend, Ashley, taught me. Concerning “naughty” childhood behaviors, think of the word, HOT, asking:
- Is the child HUNGRY?
- Is the child OVER-STIMULATED?
- Is the child TIRED?
Soon after talking with Ashley, Ron and I watched our granddaughter. Emmi spent the night at our house, sleeping in a strange bed and getting up extra early. We’d taken her to McDonalds for lunch. She’d eaten mostly French fries. Then, we took her to the park where she ran around, climbed bars, went up and down slides and played hard with new friends.
When it was time to go home and take a nap, our granddaughter ran away, balked when asked to hold our hand, pouted and then cried uncontrollably. I felt frustration mounting, afraid I’d lose patience. Then I remembered the HOT acronym. I wasn’t sure if my 4-year-old granddaughter was hungry, but there was no doubt she was over-stimulated and very tired. Extending grace, the acronym reminded me, was the best response.
Three little questions within an easy-to-remember acronym reminded me to speak softly, gather up my granddaughter, rock and sing gently. Soon, the worn-out little girl was sound asleep. Grandma also napped, and because she’d followed one little acronym, fell asleep without regrets!
The final acronym—THINK—has been one of the most helpful communication tools I’ve ever learned. Before speaking or pushing that “Send” button—especially during a tense situation—THINK,
- Is what I’m about to say/write TRUE?
- Is what I’m about to say/write HELPFUL?
- Is what I’m about to say/write INSPIRATIONAL?
- Is what I’m about to say/write NECESSARY?
- Is what I’m about to say/write KIND?
How about YOU?
- Are there acronyms that serve as helpful reminders to you? If so, we’d love to hear about them.
Now, in closing, I’d like to say, TTFN and TTYL…
- Ta-ta for Now and Talk to You Later! While Ron barbequed steaks for dinner when we were in Missouri last October, this rainbow appeared. The magnificent show of nature made a rainy vacation day feel worthwhile! I love this quote by Maya Angelou, a woman who really knew how to craft words! ↑