How to calm someone down

How to calm someone down

In this brief guide, we will discuss how to calm someone down. The approach you may want to take when trying to calm someone down and how you can help someone without being too intrusive or passive.

How to calm someone down?

If you want to know how to calm someone down, try implementing these helpful tips:

  • Help them through breathing exercises, making deep breaths
  • Help them admit they are anxious or angry
  • Help them challenge their own thoughts and contrast them with reality
  • Help them release their anger or anxiety
  • Ask them to visualize them calm and in a relaxed place such as a garden or a beach
  • If it helps, put some relaxing music on
  • Try distracting them and changing the focus of the situation
  • Avoid using phrases such as “calm down” or “just relax”

So maybe you have been in that uncomfortable situation where someone is very upset and maybe that person is angry at you or someone else. However, how can you help? Or better, what can you do? You may be compelled to say “Just calm down” or you have already tried and the situation only got worse. Saying this has probably never made anyone feel calm because it can come across as condescending. 

However, remember it is normal to feel upset, angry or sad if we get upsetting news all of a sudden, are rejected by someone we like, lose a job opportunity or something like it, that can affect us emotionally.

How to calm someone down

When someone experiences emotional distress, then, they can’t remain “cool”, emotionally detached from the situation or rational all the time. When we experience certain events in life that trigger our emotional centers in the brain which dominate over the rationals.  Try using empathy to talk to the emotional side of the brain such “I can see you are upset…”, “I understand this is frustrating…” or “I can tell this is very upsetting…”

Here are more useful tips on how to calm someone down. 

Sometimes we decide not to do anything, we tend to walk away or confront them and keep the situation from escalating and getting worse. However, if we are altered or emotionally upset then there is no way we can help someone calm down. If someone is visibly upset but not at us but towards their circumstances, it is easier to engage with them in a very calm and soothing way to prevent the situation from escalating.  

Calm yourself first…

First of all, if you are arguing with someone and you are getting angry, upset or offended and you feel the situation is escalating then try to calm yourself first. Also, try not to take things personally since the other persons anger and frustration can make them say things they don’t actually feel or think. When they are calm then they will realize that what they said was wrong (in most cases) the key is not letting you be affected by it.

Also, remember you have probably gotten upset yourself more than one time already. Even if you consider to be calm and peaceful, you have probably lost your temper in front of other people at least once in your life, we all have at some point. However, the main idea is to think about this as an opportunity to communicate better and learn how to react in those situations were keeping it cool can even help the other person de-escalate and you may even end up bonding with them. 

Take time to breathe

According to themuse.com “Breathing techniques have been proven to help dissipate stress and restore calm to our bodies. Offering to do it together invites you to share her stress. After she’s vented, say, “Let’s take three deep breaths together.” Maybe you burst out laughing at the end, or maybe it really relaxes her (and you). The point is to offer to work with her to get over the bad-day stress.”

How to calm someone down

Calming voice…

Try keeping your voice low in pitch, this is one of the most important things to consider when talking to someone who is angry or frightened. If you engage in conversation in a high pitch then this will signal excitement and will feed the person’s growing emotions. Also, consider to keep your voice at a low volume too, sometimes, you can calm people just by talking at a normal volume while, instead, they raise their voices. 

According to Snappy Living “, Some words work better than others, too. Someone whose emotions are escalating out of control wants to know they are being heard. Your first mission, then, is to let them know you’re listening – whether or not you can/will help.”

How to calm someone down

Try not to get defensive

When someone’s so mad they can barely speak in a level tone, it’s easy to absorb that negativity and feel defensive. When you’re communicating with someone who is angry, realize that the anger is likely not about you.

Separate the person’s emotions from your own so you can be there for the person without feeling the anger is directed toward you.

Stay in the present

 People who are angry will often bring up situations or conversations from the past, particularly if they are trying to draw you into their anger. Try to counteract that by keeping them focused on the present situation and solving a solution to the current problem. Don’t let yourself get drawn into feeling angry about past events.

If the conversation seems to be drifting towards past events, try saying something like, “We can talk about that later. I think right now, we should focus on what is immediately upsetting you and finding a solution to that problem. Let’s take one thing at a time.”

Showing understanding

Try to avoid phrases that use the words “can’t”, “should” or “won’t”, they will only make things worse. For instance if you say to someone “I can’t help you with that”, and it is probably the truth but try instead something like “I will look into what I can do to help and will let you know”. 

As Snappy Living indicates, “If the person is making a totally unreasonable demand, try a phrase like, “I understand what you’re saying. The thing is, so-and-so also has to be considered, and his/her needs are different from yours.”

If you tell someone they are being unreasonable, it is very likely they won’t even be conscious that they are acting like that.  The phrase suggested shows in a non-confrontational way why the person’s demand can’t be met, and in most cases, it is well received with positive feedback.

Letting them vent

If someone is upset, the best thing you can do is letting them vent and express everything they feel as it comes, without interrupting them or making any judgments. The emotional response will decrease and then, you can start reasoning with them about what happened. They will feel so much better and may even thank you for listening to them. Sometimes, silence is very much appreciated. 

You can even offer them a glass of water or a cup of tea right after they have finished letting everything out and venting. This also gives the message that you care and you are actually supportive and understanding of the situation. 

Offer help

Using a powerful phrase such as “Is there anything I can do to help?” serves various purposes. The first is asking instead of stating a command or an order is considered one of the best ways to calm someone that is upset, subsequently being more receptive and open. Additionally, this will tell the person you are willing to listen to them, you are acknowledging that their feelings are important and you are giving them a chance to speak their mind. 

How to calm someone down

“Let’s see if we can solve this together”

When someone is upset, their minds go very fast. They can feel like they are under attack and everyone is potentially against them. As we discussed, most of the time people who are upset get to feel alone and perceive the problem only affects them and no one else. If this is the case, always try reassuring and lending a helping hand. 

According to productivitytheory.com, “Being upset correlates to a problem, but problems have solutions. Listen to the problem and offer a solution. Tell them that you would love to help, and aim to solve the problem together. Working together makes the upset person feel as if they aren’t the only ones who feel the burden of the problem.”

Why is this blog about how to calm someone down, important?

Knowing how to calm someone down is not an easy question to answer especially if the person is angry or visibly upset at us and while engaging with them we can feel how we are also reacting emotionally to the situation. If you really want to help someone to calm down, you need to start by being calm yourself so you can help, eventually, to calm them down. 

Helping them breathe, offering help, letting them vent, listening to what they have to say, showing you care and understand, are some of the tips on how to calm someone down. Practice them whenever the opportunity arises and you can probably prevent many situations from escalating or getting worse. However, you need to learn to read the context and if it is required from you to intervene and help or step back and wait for the emotional outburst to pass, otherwise it can make the person feel that you are being intrusive, which can eventually lead to them being more defensive. 

Please feel free to comment in the comments section below!

References

Snappyliving.com

Productivitytheory.comThemuse.com

How to calm someone down

Juanita Agboola

Juanita Agboola is the editor in chief of HFNE and an expert in mental health online. She has been writing about online behaviour, mental health and psychology issues since 2012. All Guides are reviewed by our editorial team which constitutes various clinical psychologists, PhD and PsyD colleagues.