If you’re in a dispute that’s heating up and you’re finding yourself hot under the collar, make it your mission to stop the conversation.
For now. Let yourself—and the conflict—cool down. When a conflict is escalating and you’re experiencing an emotional hijacking, the conversation is more likely to spiral destructively. There’s no rule that you have to continue a difficult conversation that’s going badly. So, just stop.
It’s far better to take a time out, catch your breath, and get your feet back under you. But what if the other person’s plowing ahead, insisting on trying to finish the conversation you both started?
Your best approach is to be transparent (to a point) and speak to their interests at the same time. Some ways you might say it are:
I’m pretty ticked right now and that’s not a good way for me to be in a conversation with you. Let’s take a break and come back to it when I can bring a better frame of mind to this.
I think this conversation is pressing both our buttons. I’d like to take a breather so we can cool down and bring our better selves to the problem. When can we pick this back up?
Whoa! I want to give this problem my best thinking and I’m not doing that right now. I’m going to take a break. Shall we meet about this tomorrow morning?
Remember, you’re not asking permission to stop the conversation, you’re asserting your own need without dismissing theirs. And when you do take that break, use it well to really get your balance back.
How do you say it?