How to Calm Someone Down: 8 Dos and 4 Don'ts

If you want to learn how to calm down someone who is out of control, belligerent or enraged, you must first control your own reactions to his or her behavior. The person may be overwhelmed by anger and unsure about how to deal with it. You can use anger management tools to help the person get back to his or her rational state.

How to Calm Someone Down

1. Stay Calm

The best way to handle someone who is venting or yelling is to remain quiet with a neutral facial expression. Maintain an open body language and avoid reacting to their yelling, which does not mean that you should be a victim of verbal abuse. If the person starts calling you names or berating you, let the person know that he or she should not take his or her anger on you.

2. Apologize If You’ve Done Something Wrong

Give a heartfelt apology if the person is angered by something you did wrong. Apologizing does not mean that you are weak but instead shows that you care for the other person’s feelings. Think about the situation and see if you did something that you should apologize for, however, do not apologize for the sake of calming the person down if you do not think or feel that you did something wrong.

3. Make the Person Feel That His or Her Feelings Are Valid

Everyone gets angry and sometimes anger masks other emotions such as embarrassment, pain and sadness. Listen to the person and validate his or her feeling even if you do not agree with him or her. Do not judge the person, and mind your words and body language because they will tell the person if you are judging him or her. Try to let the person know that you understand how he or she feels or how frustrated the person is. Do not ask him or her to let go or get over his or her emotions.

4. Try to Use Humor to Lighten the Situation

Humor fights anger by changing the chemical processes in the body. Introduce a joke or something funny to the situation may help lighten the situation and get the person out of anger. But you should also be careful when introducing humor to the situation, because humor works only if the situation is right and if you know the person well.

5. Leave the Person Alone for Some Time

Learn how to calm someone down by giving him or her space and time. Some people prefer to process their emotions on their own instead of talking to someone else. Leave them alone for 20 minutes if talking seems to worsen the situation, andthey may get out of anger by themselves. Let the person know that you intend to leave him or her alone but you are still available when he or she is ready to talk about the situation.

6. Be an Active Listener

The best listener listens to understand and not to reply. When you listen actively, you focus on the person’s message as you respond so that both of you can have mutual understanding. You could show your unconditional positive consideration and use your emotional intelligence.

Body languages are quite important. Give undivided attention and maintain a ratio of eye contact that feels comfortable. Switch off your phone and face the person without crossing your arms or legs. Avoid interrupting the person but give constant feedback by smiling, nodding or through short remarks. Feedback makes the person know that you are listening.

7. Touch the Person While Talking

Physical touch is one of the effective ways of how to calm someone down. It is among the earliest and most basic means of communication and hence most people respond to it. Physical touch can be in form of a pat on the back, holding hands or a caress. Touch lowers stress, boosts mood, and improves health outcomes. Ask the person before giving him or her a hug, rubbing his or her shoulders or back, or holding his or her hand. The physical connection may be all the person needs to calm down.

8. Work Towards Identifying a Solution to the Problem

Your conversation may progress to the resolution stage after listening and validating the person’s feelings. Do not offer help or advice if the person does not request for it. Defining the problem, desired outcome, and the person’s goals should help you identify possible solutions. Go through each possible solution and allow the person to make the final decision.

Words You Shouldn’t Say When Calming Someone Down

1. “You Shouldn’t Sweat the Small Stuff”

What you consider small in your eyes may not be so minute in someone’s eyes. In a tense situation, you should realize it as much as you want to bring a positive light. Consider the person’s belief systems and encourage them instead of implying that their issue is small. Validate their feelings and then help them overcome their feelings.

2. Just “Calm Down”

It is difficult to calm down when suffering from panic disorders or anxiety. Many people cannot calm down in such situations especially when responding to a command. Telling someone to come down even with good intentions is likely to yield the opposite effect. Learn how to calm someone down by offering to do something with the person like taking a walk, meditating or working out.

3. “I Am Also Stressed”

You are likely to trivialize someone’s situation accidentally when you compare it with another. Do not try to help someone overcome his or her anxiety when you are stressed. If you cannot control your own anxiety or panic disorder, try not to engage another anxious person. Stress is contagious and hence it is advisable to avoid stressed people when you are stressed.

4. “Let’s Have a Drink to Get Your Mind off Your Situation”

A drink or cocktail will not help a person overcome anxiety disorder no matter how good it is. Drinks offer temporal relief from stress but lead to addiction in the long term. The substances reinforce anxiety in the long term.