Hang on.

“Hold, please” is something I often say when I’m in the middle of something and someone else needs my attention.

The first time I said it, I simply considered it a polite request. The other person cracked up.

“Did you just tell me to hold?”

In fact I did. I wasn’t sure where the humor was, but clearly there was humor embedded in my short request. Who knew?

It’s a simple line, a line that says we want to help but that we need to finish something else that we consider at least a fraction more important at that moment. It’s a line that says, “This is important, but so are you.” It kindly requests that the person stick around, because before too long you’ll be right with them.

I wish this was a line that could be used without awkwardness when we’re in the middle of a fight, in the middle of some drama, or in the middle of a mess. Picture it:

Angry person: “I am really upset with you!”

You: “Hold, please.”

Wouldn’t it be great to steal the air from an overly inflated situation with such a perfect, apparently humorous line? After all, even in anger or drama, chances are the other person is somewhat imporant to you. If they weren’t, you perhaps wouldn’t be as caught up in the matter at hand.

There’s a lot that can get to us on a daily basis. This person, that person, a fellow motorist, the person on the other end of the phone, a messenger — you name it, our feathers can be ruffled. The next time mine are, I intend to hold. For myself, and for them. To spare myself from saying too much with a sharp tongue, and to spare them from being on the other end of my words.

I’ll hold, they’ll hold, and — in theory — things will proceed in a sane manner.

Asking that someone hold for a moment while we quickly gather our emotions up is a way of asking them to hang on while we don’t make a situation worse, and in the process we’re able to hang on to our dignity. Be thankful for those small moments that allow us to maintain relationships, and to build up and not tear down. Tonight, I am thankful for them all.

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