Even though the Six Thinking Hats has six hats you can use to facilitate thinking during a session, you don’t necessarily have to use all of them during a session (you can read my review of the Six Thinking Hats here). You can choose to use the hats that are relevant to the topic on discussion. So supposing you are running a meeting and discussing a topic that people have a lot of strong feelings about. For example a new work process, shift work pattern or loss of a benefit, how can you get people to discuss their feelings without it turning into world war III?
This is where the Red Hat comes in. The Red Hat deals with the emotional view of a situation. It focuses on feelings such as rage, anger, sadness and jealousy. It looks at the non-rational aspect of a situation. And in any meeting talking about how people feel in regards to an issue can be challenging. When using the red hat people can express feelings without needing to justify or explain them.
To use the red hat first explain what the specific idea or situation is and then ask a red hat thinking question like, ‘give me your red hat contributions on the new shift work pattern?’ Each person in the meeting is allowed to answer in turn and no one is allowed to pass. Under no conditions must people try to justify, explain or validate their feelings. They should just be noted. People may use terms like: annoyed, angry, dissatisfied, disappointed, confused and doubtful, to express their feelings. Since feelings can change, the red hat can be used at the beginning of a session before using the other hats and again at the end of the session because what happened during the session may affect how people feel.
Summarily, the red hat legitimizes emotions and feelings as an important part of thinking.