If someone approaches you and speaks irritatingly-nagging or gossiping about one of your friends, for instance- and you notice yourself getting upset, simply stop talking. Remind yourself silently, "I must not be reactive. I must not fall into the same lack of mindfulness as this person. This conversation is not going anywhere. I chose to engage only in meaningful conversation." In many cases, the other person will respond to your silence by stopping the irritating talk. You can use the pause that follows to turn the conversation in a better direction.
Actually, as someone following the Buddha's path, the moment you know that a conversation is heading in the wrong direction you should take responsibility for putting it back on track. It is so easy to get carried away with emotional talk and start shouting. A shouting match causes unhappiness to everyone involved. With mindfulness recall how awful you feel when you are out of control emotionally. Remind yourself that it may take hours or days before you calm down enough to talk to this person again. A lot of good feelings will be lost, perhaps permanently.
In spite of all your good efforts, however, sometimes you still get angry. If another person continually provokes you, assaulting you with verbal daggers, you may become completely confused and bewildered. Then it is very easy for anger to arise. When you see your confusion building up, say "Wait a minute !" to the other person, with the hope of finding a moment to clear you mind. But what if the other person responds with "No , you wait a minute!" and continues to attack - then what ?
In these situations, when the conversation spins out of control, your task is to bring mindfulness back quickly and use Skillful Effort to overcome the anger. Even if your feelings of anger cause your heart to beat fast, your body to break into a sweat, and your hands to shake, mindfulness of your resolution to avoid all harsh speech can help you stay in control. Simply refuse to let your anger tell you what to say. Concentrate on your breathing to reestablish mindfulness until your anger has died down.
Calming yourself gives both you and the other person a chance to open your hearts in a more friendly way. As your heart begins to warm, you see the other more clearly, and maybe you will understand why you both got upset. You can also see how confused an angry state of mind makes you. As you feelings of respect and concern grow, you can resolve to use this moment to being a new and more loving relationship and to strengthen the companionship between you. That is what you should always hope to do.