How to Request Time to Think: Phrases for When You Don’t Know How to Respond…Yet

Part of being an influential communicator is knowing the difference between responding versus reacting.

A reaction stems from assumptions, subconscious communication habits, and unexamined emotions, A response is the result of reflection and consideration of multiple perspectives.

What typically distinguishes a response versus a reaction? Pause.

In the past few decades, time for pause has been bogarted by technology.

It’s easy to lose sight of how much technology has trained us to be reactionary. Our devices and their software are designed to get reactions from us:

  • Text message alerts
  • Email alerts
  • Social media alerts
  • News alerts

We’re always ready and alert for anything that needs our instant “response” – ahem, reaction.


Where did the time go?

As a millennial, I’m part of that last generation that will remember what it was like to have a rotator dial on the telephone with the coiled chord all knotted up. I will never forget the terrible ear-aching sound the modem would make as it connected, and how I’d mimic the sound, like humming a TV show jingle.

Technology was a part of my upbringing, but it had yet to seep into every moment of every day like it has now. Pause was built into daily life. Everyone wasn’t within reach 24/7. You had more time to think and reflect before getting back to someone.

Things have changed.

Now, time for pause has to be claimed.

Technology is moving faster than we can keep up. And along the way, we’ve lost the skill of knowing when to take pause and – more importantly – how to request for a pause in order to return with a thoughtful response.

Phrases for Requesting Time to Respond

Those who seek a response from you might mistakenly push or even bully for a reaction. It’s a byproduct of our new instantaneous lifestyle. And so, we all now have the personal responsibility to communicate a need for pause. To let others know that you want to show up fully, wholeheartedly, and mindfully to the conversation.

Every situation has its own nuance. To help you get started, here are a few easy phrases you can use as a springboard in different situations for when you need pause.

Requesting Pause at Work:

  • “I would like some time to take this under consideration.”
  • “Please give me time to review this for when I have a bit more bandwidth.”
  • “I’d appreciate the time to think this over.”

Requesting Pause at Home:

  • “I need a moment to take a breath.”
  • “I’d appreciate some space to process everything.”
  • “I feel like I need my thoughts to catch up to my feelings. Can we please revisit this sometime soon”.

Requesting Pause on Social Media:

I have seen different examples of when someone expressed a need for pause on an online platform. If you’d like to make a request for space on social media – either in a particular thread or from your entire online presence – then feel free to find your own personal mix using the phrases above in either category.

As a caveat, I don’t necessarily think you need to apply the same “rules” to social media as you would for 1-1 interactions. If you feel an aspect of your social media has taken a toxic turn, consider not engaging further until you feel it’s right for you.


Accepting Requests for Pause

If you see the value in taking a pause for yourself, then please honor the request when it’s made by someone else. Pause helps us all have mindful conversations. Pause helps us get through thoughts and emotions that come from our primal, fearful defensives that want to lash out with a potentially harmful reaction. Pause helps us avoid saying words we wish we could take back. Pause helps us find the words for creation, connection, opportunity, innovation, healing, and motivation. 

Mindful conversations follow requests and acceptance for pause.

Sharí Alexander - Influence Speaker & Coach - Headshot

Happy Influencing!

Sharí Alexander
Influence Speaker & Coach

 P.S. Here are a few other ways I can help you increase your influence, whenever you’re ready.

1. I’m putting out a lot of great tips on LinkedIn and Instagram. Follow me for influential insights that help you in business and life!

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