Our brains are not quite as
advanced as we would like to believe they are.
We can only focus our attention on one thing
at a time. So if we want to interrupt our automatic
reaction in a situation and handle it differently,
focusing on our breathing, even if it is just
for one breath, will give us enough time to
choose our response.
Often I find myself taking more
than one because I need a bit more time to disconnected
from my usual reaction. Don't worry about what
the other person is thinking. If you breathe
for a long enough time they will certainly ask
what you are doing. Your answer will either
be, "I am listening to what you are saying,"
or "I am thinking about how to respond."