I hate being told to calm down. It’s like red rag to a very angry bull, especially when I’m perfectly calm to begin with. I feel like there’s nothing more condescending than being told to calm down. It’s like saying “I understand that you think there is an issue here, but you’re just being hysterical and your so called problem isn’t that big of a deal”. It’s a criticism of your behavior and makes you feel like you need to justify your emotions. It’s like being told that your concerns are invalid, and thus you aren’t worthy of the other person’s time.
I had that experience yesterday. I had a problem, I rang someone to discuss it so I could sort it out, and the very first thing he said to me was “calm down, I got this”. Now, a quick bit of context here. I had expressly asked this person to do something, and when I returned, discovered that he had completely disregarded my (very clear) instruction, and done things a completely different way. Now, people doing things their way rather than mine doesn’t bother me, if the job ends up done correctly. But in this instance, the person in question had taken it upon himself to do things that a) made giant problems for me, b) left me completely out of the loop, and c) was entirely the wrong thing.
It took a great deal of self control to not call him some nasty names over the phone. Instead, I told him not to minimise the problems at hand, or tell me to calm down when I hadn’t even been remotely not calm. He responded with further condescension and a blase attitude that tested my level emotions. And even more infuriatingly, didn’t seem to acknowledge that he had made a mistake. It’s frustrating to have your work and your authority questioned, but those two little, seemingly innocent words have the power to make everything so much worse.
Think about it. There are very few situations where telling someone to calm down is a helpful solution. Your friend is upset because her partner has just broken up with her? Give her ice cream, give her hugs, tell her she’s better off without the ex and let her cry and rage and get her emotions out, but do not tell her to calm down. Your workmate is stressing about a job they have to do? Offer to help, get them a cup of tea/coffee and remember that telling them to calm down will seem disingenuous and like you don’t really care. A loved one is in hospital? Be there for you family/friends, cry if you all need to, and be mindful of telling grieving or anxious people to be calm. Because I think in times of sadness and stress, you are entitled to your wild emotions and no one has the right to tell you otherwise.
Calm has its place, definitely. Ask Manny, he’ll tell you, But it is something that you control and something that no one else can tell you to do, or be. Unless they want to be punched in the head for being insensitive, dismissive jerks.