Does reading that subject line alone tighten your stomach? In the history of humanity has there ever been an instance where somebody said “just calm down” and it then caused the irate/overstimulated/dysregulated person to think “wow, you are so right, I really need to relax, take a deep breath, get outside of my own situation and calm myself?” My thought is a big “Nope!” So, why doesn’t this statement have it's intended outcome? The person saying could be technically correct that the situation would benefit from the angered person to regulate, but have you ever wondered why saying that doesn’t land well with the person who is frustrated?
Here is my take on it - people want to feel heard. Saying something dismissive like “just calm down” completely leaps over all of their reasoning for being angered and can inflame the situation even more as now they are not only upset but also misunderstood.
If you are truly wanting to help someone who is in the throes of anger, try some of these statements and see how they land:
“Something about this is really hard. I believe you.”
“You and I are on the same team. Let’s work on figuring this out together.”
“I am here for you. I love you. You are safe”
“Seems like we could both use a little break. Let’s try that and come back together in 10 minutes.”
“It’s okay to feel angry. I feel angry too, sometimes.”
Did you say anything revolutionary? Not necessarily. But, you took the first step which is acknowledging this person’s feelings which sets you up better for the outcome of resolution. Now, should this be a recurring issue for someone in your life you may want to consider speaking to a professional licensed therapist (my door is always open) but for the everyday communication situations with loved ones try these out and let me know how it works.