When a person gets upset, they often don’t think, or act, rational. When you’re fighting with someone, you might say things that you can’t take back. It’s hard not to lash out when someone is angry and taking it out on you. But when you fight back, it only makes matters worse. It’s better to calm the person down before you try talking. Here are some tips on how to calm someone down.
Why You Need to Know How to Calm Someone Down
Everyone has some experience with being upset. Maybe it’s just one of those days where everything seems to be going wrong, and it’s just put you in a bad mood. Or perhaps you got some bad news. Or it could be that someone has done something that has affected you in a bad way.
When we’re in a bad mood, it’s easy to take it out on anyone who’s around. It doesn’t matter if someone has done something wrong. They could just be a victim of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. But when you take your anger or frustration out on someone, they might retaliate with their own aggression – which leads to a big mess.
Anger is poison to the soul. If you don’t learn how to manage your emotions successfully, you could become a slave to them. You might end up isolating everyone who cares about you. And then you’re stuck, dealing with all your problems alone.
There are many emotions that may elicit the need to calm somebody down. Some common reasons or negative emotions that might cause you to calm someone down include:
Tips for How to Calm Someone Down
When a conflict occurs between two people, things can get out of control. Especially if both people are hotheads who don’t know how to handle conflict management. If left unresolved, the altercation can spread to other people, causing everyone to take sides. No one wants to deal with an angry mob. Thankfully, there are things you can do to deescalate a confrontational situation.
When you’re dealing with someone angry or upset, the first thing you have to do is keep yourself in check. If you let your temper flare, you could end up escalating the situation further. Remember that you’re trying to get them calmed down. You can’t do that if you’re upset too. Try these tips for how to calm someone down.
When Calming Someone Down, Keep Your Cool
When a confrontation occurs, it can be hard not to engage. I get it. Most people don’t want to sit there and keep their mouth shut while someone is yelling and acting like a horse’s behind. But if you take the time to analyze the situation, you can find a solution which defuses the tension and resolves the conflict, without you succumbing to your anger.
Some people get in a bad mood, and they take it out on everybody. If someone is taking their frustrations out on you, it can be easier for you to stay calm and think rationally. You’re aware that you didn’t cause the situation, so you don’t take offense to anything the other person is saying.
But when someone starts attacking you because they’re upset about something you’ve done or said, it can be a lot trickier to stay calm. At this point, your partner might start using insults and saying hurtful things. They can even bring up past events as more leverage for their current distress.
How to Stay Neutral When Trying to Calm Someone Down
I’ve always been the type of person who wants to have the last word. So, anytime I found myself in an argument, I would go in with both guns blazing – figuratively, of course. I would deliver low blows as good as I got. But it always made things worse. It took me years to realize that you can’t fix a problem if you’re dealing with it while you’re in your emotions. The curse of being a Cancer, I swear!
But, there’s an old saying about “You live, and you learn.” I have learned that if you’re trying to resolve a situation, you have to approach it logically and sensibly. So, if you find yourself in a position where someone is trying to get you to engage in an angry argument, don’t give in.
Instead, focus on controlling your emotions. Take deep, slow breaths to calm down when you feel angry. Spend a few seconds going over your response in your head before you speak, so you’re sure there’s nothing that they could take the wrong way. Upset people typically take words at face value instead of using contextual clues to get a full understanding.
Here’s an Example
“I apologize for taking a bit to respond, but I’m trying not to say anything that would upset you. Please give me a minute to calm down. It’s important to me that we get this resolved.”
Don’t Be Afraid to Take a Break
If breathing techniques aren’t helping you to calm down, tell your companion you need to take a break. Go for a walk to clear your head or do a few minutes of meditation. Slip into the bathroom and splash some cold water on your face. Or stretch and try to relax your mind and body before you resume the next round of your boxing match.
If you keep trying to fix the issue while you’re both upset, it can lead to more problems. Sometimes, you have to step away for a bit. The time apart can help you digest what you’ve heard so far so you can be ready to figure out the problem and find a solution when you get back together.
Try saying something like this.
“I can see that you’re frustrated, and it seems like it might be because of something I’ve done. But I’m having trouble understanding you because we’re both upset. Can we take a break to clear our heads for a few minutes? I think we’ll be able to communicate better afterward. I want to get this worked out.”
Understand how the Human Body Reacts to Anger
I’ve already explained that when you’re upset, your body gets stuck in a fight, flight, or freeze scenario. Some of you might not understand what this means, so let me clarify.
Your body is biologically designed to respond to stimuli it finds threatening – physically or psychologically. Even something as simple as a stressful event like public speaking, or arguing, can trigger the fight, flight, or freeze response.
You may notice when you get mad, or stressed, that you start to shake. You may feel hot, and your face can get red. When I get frustrated, my ears begin to burn. That’s never a good sign. At this point, I know to walk away and calm down. You may also notice that your heart beats faster, and you might even start breathing harder.
These symptoms happen because your brain is flooding your nervous system with hormones that prepare your body for action. Either you’re ready to escape (flee), or you’re set to confront the situation (fight). Or sometimes, you freeze like a deer in the headlights, with no idea how to react. When your nervous system is fully aroused, you become hypersensitive to everything that’s going on around you.
Avoid Using Alarming Stimuli
Adrenaline is what gives you energy. It can be euphoric, or exciting, for some, which is why they do extreme things like skydiving or bungee jumping. When your body is running on adrenaline, you can become jumpy and sensitive to loud sounds and quick movements.
A slamming door could make you jump out of your chair. Someone standing up quickly can make you step back in surprise. And if they start to talk to you in a loud voice, it typically makes you yell back. Then you end up even angrier than before. The next thing you know, you’re in the middle of a yelling match that’s attracting a lot of unwanted attention from bystanders.
To avoid making a scene, you must keep your voice low and soothing. Think of how you’d talk to a scared, injured animal. Your companion isn’t going to be able to calm down if they feel that they’re in a threatening situation – you yelling back at them in response.
Remember that you’re not going to be able to get them to see your point of view while they’re upset. Calmly explain to them that you’d like to continue the discussion, but only if they will be willing to do it correctly. When you show that you’re open to communication instead of fighting, it can take the wind out of their sails.
Here’s One Way to Try This
“It seems like you have something important you’d like to talk about that is bothering you. We can get the situation resolved, but only if we discuss it like adults. How about we try this again, and you explain to me what’s going on? It might be better if we keep our voices low so other people don’t try to join in.”
Watch Your Body Language
People don’t just communicate with words. My daughter and I could have an entire conversation with only facial expressions and hand gestures. People with hearing disabilities might not even be able to use spoken words. They rely solely on their bodies.
Anyone who’s ever tried to talk to a teenager knows how frustrating it can be to see them roll their eyes or scoff and look away. You watch your audience to see how they are receiving your message.
When you’re upset, everything becomes personal. If someone starts rolling their eyes while you’re trying to talk about what’s bothering you, you might get offended. When you feel insulted, it can make your temper worse. Pay attention to the unspoken messages you’re sending when you’re dealing with someone who is upset or angry.
Appropriate Body Language When You’re Trying to Calm Someone Down
To communicate effectively, you have to be aware of how you’re sending messages verbally, and subliminally, with your body language. If you’re unintentionally looking aggressive or intimidating, it can cause an upset person to lash out in anger and misunderstanding. It’s easy to see danger where there isn’t any when you’re worked up.
When you’re talking to someone, keep your body relaxed. Don’t cross your arms or tap your feet. If you’re standing, keep your arms relaxed at your sides. Relax and make eye contact. Smiling might not be appropriate, but you should show that your focus is on the upset person.
When listening to a person who’s upset, you can nod, cock your head to the side, or murmur simple words like “huh” or “hmm” to show that you’re listening. Don’t divide your attention between the upset person and other stuff. If you want to get to the bottom of the situation, it needs your undivided focus.
Watch What You Say
Talking to someone who’s upset can be tricky. A lot of people say it’s like walking on eggshells. You have to be careful with your words, so you don’t end up saying the wrong thing. When dealing with an upset person, the worst thing you could do is tell them to “Calm down” or “Chill out.”
When you do this, you’re basically telling them they are overreacting, and you’re not interested in their feelings. Trust me when I tell you that saying either of these will only make things worse. Saying, “I understand how you feel,” is another statement that often has the wrong effect.
You might be trying to show them you sympathize with what they’re going through, but everyone experiences feelings and emotions differently. Trying to say that you have experienced what they are going through can be insulting to some people.
How to Properly Speak to Someone You’re Trying to Calm Down
When you’re trying to relate to someone who’s upset, you generally want to start by showing that you understand the situation. When you validate a person’s feelings, they’re less likely to remain angry. Knowing that someone is willing to listen and sympathize can make them more complacent to calm down and talk about what’s bothering them.
Point out that you can see the emotions they’re feeling and that you can see why they’re feeling that way about the situation. The best way to do this is by actively listening to what your partner is saying and paraphrasing it back to them.
Doing this shows that you are paying attention to the person and want to help them fix the issue. You’re also shedding light on the real issue, which might be getting buried under all the unneeded baggage your companion has drug up with it. Repeating it allows them to see the problem isolated from everything else so they can figure out how to resolve it.
Here’s An Example
“I know it must be frustrating to go through this situation. Would you like to take some time to talk about it so we can solve the issue together? A different perspective might help you figure out a better solution.”
One of the hardest things you may have to face is keeping your cool while someone is going off on you. Been there, done that. When you have a quick temper, things can quickly get out of hand. Trying to calm someone down requires a lot of patience and a thick skin.
Think about a time when you were angry. Can you recall exactly what you said? Probably not. When you’re running on high alert, your brain is busy keeping your body functioning correctly. This leaves less power for your memory to properly transfer your memories from short term to long term.
When a person experiences a traumatic event, they often have a hazy recollection of the occasion, if they can remember it at all. The same occurs when you’re upset. It’s easy to get lost in the emotions. You say what’s going through your mind without stopping to weigh your words.
How to Be Humble While Calming Someone Down
If you want to calm someone down, you have to stay unaffected. Don’t react to what they’re saying, even if it’s insulting. As much as you may want to justify yourself, it’s best not to respond until you’ve gotten them calm. You can’t talk rationally to someone when they’re upset.
You cannot have an ego if you’re trying to calm someone down. You have to remember that they are running on pure energy, and they aren’t using empathic reasoning, which is when you censor what you say or do so you don’t offend someone.
A lot of times, we might say something mean to someone, with the intention of upsetting them. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Misery loves company.” But instead of letting someone drag you down, put forth your best effort in bringing them back up.
“I can see that you’re frustrated about something. It would be helpful if you could stop insulting me and explain what you’re upset about. I can’t help fix it if I don’t know what the problem is. Work with me, please?”
Apologize If You’re Wrong to Calm Someone Down
There might be times when you’ve done something that has caused someone to get upset. If someone is telling you about what’s bothering them, don’t dismiss the issue. It might not seem like a big issue to you, but remember that everyone thinks and feels differently.
If you are in the wrong about the situation, apologize for it. Don’t be nonchalant and simply say, “I’m sorry.” or “My bad.” Put effort into showing them that you see how your behavior has affected them by acknowledging your mistake.
Don’t use the word “sorry” at all when you’re apologizing. It can seem insincere and too casual. Instead, use something with more meaning like, “My sincerest apologies” or “I truly apologize.” When you acknowledge that you have done something wrong, it can defuse a person’s anger. They can forgive you, and you can rebuild your relationship.
Here’s How to Deal with Apologizing
“I can see why you’re upset that I didn’t choose you for the team project. It wasn’t my intention to hurt your feelings or discredit your work. I know you are a superb worker, but I also knew you didn’t have any experience with this type of assignment. There were more qualified candidates. But I could see if there’s a way to include you in a minor role so you can get some experience. Maybe you can try again for the next one. I truly hope you accept my sincerest apologies.”
Be Present in the Conversation
It can be challenging to listen to someone when they are worked up, especially if they’re taking it out on you. But ignoring them will only make things worse. Your goal when dealing with someone who’s upset is to get them to calm down so that you can find an answer to the problem.
If you’re busy checking your phone or working on your computer, it can signal to your companion that they don’t have your full attention. When you’re upset, and it feels like someone is ignoring you, you typically get more worked up. The same goes if you’re frequently checking your watch or tapping your fingers or feet.
Instead, put aside everything and focus on the conversation. Let the speaker get things off their chest at first. Then, calmly inform them that you’d like to help, but you can only do so if you understand what the problem is. Try to be diplomatic about it.
How to Approach the Situation to Calm Someone Down
“I get that you’re frustrated. Why don’t we discuss the situation in detail and see if we can figure out a solution that will be suitable for everyone? I think it would be helpful if you started at the beginning and slowed it down a bit, so I have time to process everything. This seems very important to you, and I want to make sure I understand everything you’re saying.”
With this speech, you’re validating your companion’s feelings so they don’t feel like you’re dismissing what they’re going through. You’re offering an olive branch to bring peace to the situation by offering to assist them with their problem. And you’re subtly suggesting that they calm down so you can have a proper conversation without offending them.
When you’re giving an upset person an avenue to vent their thoughts, they typically lose some of the wind out of their sails. They stop yelling and cursing and rambling all over the place. You might see them let out a heavy sigh or flop down into a chair. No one wants to stay angry. They just need a reason to stop.
Showing empathy is a great way to help a person start to calm down. Having empathy means that you can sympathize with what a person is going through. You understand their feelings as if they were your own. Typically, when you feel empathy for a person, you want to help them with their problem.
When someone is upset, let them get their feelings out. Don’t interrupt them as they’re expressing themselves. Make sure you pay attention to what they’re actually saying and show the appropriate responses. If possible, try to see the situation from their perspective.
Something that many people don’t realize is that we each have individual ways that we process information. If you distribute the same directions to five different people, chances are there will be variations in each of the final results.
Something that doesn’t seem like a big deal to you, like getting passed over for an assignment, might seem like the end of the world for someone else. It’s crucial to remember this as you’re dealing with someone who’s upset.
How to Be Empathic When Calming Someone Down
Being empathic isn’t difficult, but it does require you to see things from someone else’s perspective. You should never try to tell someone that what they’re feeling is wrong. Instead, you should try to help them see a different way of viewing things.
When you’re dealing with someone that you’re trying to calm down, remember to listen more than you speak. If you are talking, make sure that you’ve summarized what the speaker has told you. And don’t forget to include how you understand their feelings while talking about the situation.
When you’re upset, it can be challenging to keep your opinions to yourself. It’s nice to be able to talk to someone who doesn’t judge you. They seem to get your predicament, which can help you calm down. You start to discuss the problem in-depth, without the temper. When you take emotions out of a situation, it’s easier to solve.
Now You Know How to Calm Someone Down
We hope you now have a better understanding of the complexities and challenges of trying to calm someone down. Whether they’re sad, angry, or stressed, our helpful tips can make you better at helping people when they’re upset. If you want to be an effective communicator, you’ll need to know how to calm someone down effectively.