Are there any words in the English language as infuriating? Just ask a woman. On the surface, they seem harmless enough: A gentle reminder to take a deep breath, relax, and gain perspective before a relationship issue snowballs. Problem is, when a woman hears these two words from a man, the effects are anything but conciliatory. “Men are generally conditioned to take control in a heightened situation so when woman is upset, they may reach for the phrase ‘calm down’ in an effort to pacify her without realizing that they’re making a bad situation worse,” says Paul Hokemeyer, Ph.D., a New York City based licensed marriage and family therapist. Here’s why a guy should never utter those two little words and how to deal if he does.
It’s dismissive: He says, “Calm down” but what you hear is: “You’re being irrational.”
It’s sneaky: Some guys use the phrase to genuinely try to diffuse an argument but others store it as a manipulation tactic, a form of reverse psychology when they’re feeling powerless.
It’s unhelpful: Yes you’re angry. That’s clear, so telling you in not-so-many-words that you’re angry won’t do much to resolve an argument. Hokemeyer says ‘calm down’ is a pat phrase that doesn’t problem-solve since people generally don’t like their feelings dictated.
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