“SASHET”: A Connection Tool

I just returned from my favorite annual camp conference. Spending time with this group of camp owners and directors refocuses me and helps me get motivated for another summer of camp. These are the only people in the world who understand what I do “the rest of the year” and face the same challenges of balancing camp, family, and sanity.

This year’s conference theme was “Equilibrio: You, Your Camp, Your Life.” There were sessions focused on well-being, productivity, and other topics related to caring for ourselves while also caring for others.

One of my favorite sessions was by Jeanne Malnati, CEO of The Culture Group. She had many tips to share about bringing clear and positive communication to the culture of your company – and your family.

One tool she taught us she calls “SASHET,” an acronym for six basic emotions:


Sashet Connection Tool

In her work with corporations, Malnati trains teams to spend a few minutes at the start of each group meeting to check in with how each team member is feeling.

Here are Jeanne’s rules for “SASHET”:

  1. Take out a cell phone.
  2. Set the time for two minutes (You can also do one minute, if crunched for time).
  3. One person shares one “SASHET” feeling and why they are feeling what they’re feeling.
  4. No one cross talks or problem solves. Everyone listens without talking. The person sharing gets their full two minutes, even if they finish talking early.
  5. When the timer goes off, move to the next person’s turn (the first person selects direction).

This time of connection takes just a few minutes (16 minutes for a team of 8 people) and leads to bonding and connection on a deeper level, which in turn leads to fewer misunderstandings, team members who feel seen, heard, and valued, and greater productivity.

Why is it important to know how our team members are feeling? As an example, knowing that a team member is scared about a parent’s illness (or some other outside-of-work concern) allows other team members to show kindness by following up with an encouraging note or word. The practice also helps create more openness and clear communication among team members and gets people comfortable talking about feelings.

At our camp office meeting today, we’ll be using SASHET. Most definitely, it’s also going to turn up as a communication tool for our cabin groups at camp this summer. And, of course, my teenage sons are going to learn to get in touch with their emotions better at our SASHET talks at family dinners. We started last night.