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"Stop!" How to Apply the Brakes in Heated Discussions

“That’s not what I’m trying to say!” “This is going nowhere!” “You don’t get it!”

Sometimes disagreements build to the point that they become negative, and plain nasty. Even when delivered in a less than pleasing way, these comments are perfect examples of one person trying to slow down the conversation, or perhaps even trying to take a break from it. In the fury of word exchanges, couples can easily miss the point that one is making. “Stop.”

Learning new ways to attempt repairs during an argument can seem very different and strange. Change is uncomfortable. It takes practice. Even though it may seem weird at first, there is some value to the term “fake it until you make it”.

In his book The Seven Principles for Making Marriages Work, Dr. John Gottman outlines some new phrases that may help put the brakes on during these disputes. It's important to try remain as calm as possible while exploring these:

I feel…

I’m feeling overwhelmed

I’m getting scared

I’m very frustrated…

I Need to Calm Down

Can you help make this safe for me right now?

I need things to be more calm right now.

Please help me calm down.

Stop Action

Give me a moment.

Can we take a break from this for a few minutes?

Let’s start over again.


My reaction was too extreme. Sorry.

Please let me try again.

That didn’t come out right.

Get to Yes

I agree with part of what you’re saying.

Can you help me understand?

From your perspective, that makes sense.

I Appreciate

Thank you for…

I understand

That’s a good point.

I love you.

Finding your groove with these phrases is important. Change it around. Make it your own. Try your best to see what your part of the gridlock is, and come clean to your partner. Also, consider putting your agenda aside for a moment to help your partner through these statements by being gentle and understanding. If you find that your relationship is in need for a tune up, feel free to contact me anytime.

All the best,


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