Imagine a mother screaming and running around searching for their missing child. Another person approaches them and tells them to stop yelling and calm down!
You watch as the mother yells back, don’t tell me to calm down, my child is missing! Why is the mother more upset?
Another scenario, imagine someone offends you, and they say, ok, ok, just calm down I didn’t mean to insult you! How would it make you feel? More upset right, but why?
Both scenarios had people telling others who were upset to calm down.
However, telling someone to calm down can cause more harm than good, and we need to understand why this happens. We also need to find out what we should do instead, so we can help someone and not make things worse.
Most of the time people who tell us to calm down are trying to make us feel better, but that’s where the problem is. You can’t make people do anything they don’t want to, and we need to acknowledge how they feel before we can be of any help.
By telling someone to calm down, a person may mistake your kind act to help them as having the wrong motives. So, we need to understand what they’re hearing when you tell them to calm down.
- Your feelings don’t matter, and you’re making too much of a big deal about the situation.
- I don’t feel comfortable with the way you’re reacting to the situation, stop it!
Both reasons make you seem selfish and uncaring. Of course, the person will respond by yelling at you and telling you to leave them alone, most of the time in the rudest way possible.
You never want to make a situation worse, so if you’re trying to help, what should you do instead? It often depends on the situation and the reason why the person is upset and under stress. In general, these points will help you deal with the situation a lot better.
- Avoid saying calm down on its own.
- Don’t make it sound like you’re ordering them to do something.
- Think about the situation and try to acknowledge the feelings of the other person.
- Take a deep breath, evaluate your motives and what you want to accomplish.
Ways to tell someone to calm down without hurting their feelings
- I can see you’re very upset, what can I do to help you?
- I’m sorry I have offended you, that wasn’t my intention.
- I can see we’re both upset, why don’t we take a few moments and talk about this later on.
- It seems you’re having a tough day, tell me what’s going on and how I can help.
- I understand your frustration, let’s try to find a solution together.
- How can I help you now?
- Did you want to sit down for a moment and tell me about what is troubling you?
- What’s the matter? Can I help?
- Please let me assist you, tell me what’s
- Don’t worry; I/we are here to help you. What can I/we do?
- I understand you are upset, try taking a deep breath and think about it for a minute.
Many of these sentences include an offer to help the person in some way, or a request to know more about what has made them so upset.
The following phrases are not always appropriate for every situation, and you need to make sure it will not be offensive or unkind to the person if you say it. Often these expressions should only be used with family or close friends.
- It’s going to be OK, take a deep breath and try to relax.
- Take it easy.
- Chill out!
- Don’t stress.
- Control yourself. (Often used by parents when speaking to a misbehaving)
If you use one of these phrases, it is important that you say it with the right tone of voice. Remember the key is to show you’re listening, empathize with the feelings of the other person, offer to help and for goodness sake don’t tell them to calm down!
I hope this article has explained why saying calm down can backfire and what you can do instead. Leave your comments below if you think that this article will help you and remember to check out our other blog posts on our site as well.