Author Topic: "I don't want to calm down!"  (Read 11431 times)

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LadyL

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Re: "I don't want to calm down!"
« Reply #45 on: February 13, 2014, 01:48:05 PM »

How about "Take a deep breath"...also (as I am sure you do) sound like you care about this and not a flat "I will get someone for you" but a concerned "Oh that must be frustrating! Let me get Mrs.. SoandSo, she is the one that can help you with this."

I have used "do me a favor - take a deep breath" with people who are really upset. It gives them something to do/focus on for a second, and then you can say "I see you're upset. What I'm going to do is contact Dean Whoever. Why don't you sit down and write down what happened while I do that."

Surianne

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Re: "I don't want to calm down!"
« Reply #46 on: February 13, 2014, 03:32:25 PM »
I definitely agree with those who have said "calm down" isn't useful.  I'm a bit of a frustration crier, and the only thing worse than "calm down" is when someone says "breathe" or "take a deep breath" as if I'm too stupid to live.  When I hear that, my whole vision goes black with rage and it's very, very hard for me to remember not to escalate the situation.  Being condescended to is not even remotely useful when I'm upset.

I really like the suggestions of letting her know what the next steps are, that you've heard her, and that you're going to help her by doing X thing.  The idea of showing her a place to sit and giving her pen and paper to jot down some thoughts is a good one, too.  When I've been in a situation like this, showing up in person at the office is usually my last ditch effort.  It means I've been trying to resolve this for a while and need help, not judgement on my emotions -- so having the person at the desk be proactive is very helpful and calming.

OP, I think your recognition that you don't want to sound patronizing is great.  It definitely makes a big difference for me when I'm upset if admin staff take me seriously.  And when I've been on the admin site, I've found that respecting a student's concerns goes a long way toward diffusing the situation.

blarg314

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Re: "I don't want to calm down!"
« Reply #47 on: February 13, 2014, 07:47:21 PM »

thank you. that's what's been bothering me about this - the 'crying' or 'almost crying' shouldnt' even be an issue here. this student has to learn that there are ways to do things "in the real world" - and crying when you don't get your way isn't one of them. and the OP shouldn't have to worry, walk around on eggshells in case a student decides to withdraw or throw a tantrum in the hallway. I *really* can't imagine a situation where a potential student will see an hysterical student crying about her grades and "the stupid bureaucrats didn't even listen to me" and go "oh, no way am i going to this school! they made her cry!".

That expresses it nicely.

We're dealing with an adult here, and a non-emergency complaint. If a student were coming in to report an assault and was losing control, for example, I'd react totally differently. But she's coming in to complain about a grade, and an adult in that situation should be able to make a complaint and go through the resolution process without melting down. I'm picturing someone reacting a similar way to a unfair job review - stomping into the head boss's office, nearly in tears, demanding that something be done about it *now*, and insisting that they want to stay made and have no intention of calming down until they get exactly what they want. While clients come in and out of the office.


JeanFromBNA

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Re: "I don't want to calm down!"
« Reply #48 on: February 13, 2014, 07:59:52 PM »
The best way is to stay very calm yourself, acknowledge how they are feeling (without agreeing or taking a position on what they are saying), and tell them what you are going to do, and what they need to do. This makes them deflate like balloons and brings them very quickly into mutually resolving the issue with you, and away from being in conflict with you. It helps them to see that you are not their problem - you are their source of solving the problem.

I suggest using "we:" "Here's what we are going to do:  I am going to get you an appointment with Dr. So and so.  You need to tell me when you are available.  Then we can get this sorted out."  If it's a matter of waiting for someone, I love the idea of giving the person a pen and paper to write notes.  Gives anger a proper direction.

And I totally agree with Figgee on this:

The other thing is that people 'often' tell women that they are upset and need to calm down.  There is a difference between being upset and being angry, so for me when people say that I'm upset and need to calm down, they are telling me: first that I'm not angry, when I am, second, that I have no right to be angry, and third that my legitimate anger has no place in public.

So that very rarely ends well for the person telling me to calm down.


MariaE

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Re: "I don't want to calm down!"
« Reply #49 on: February 14, 2014, 02:34:01 AM »

How about "Take a deep breath"...also (as I am sure you do) sound like you care about this and not a flat "I will get someone for you" but a concerned "Oh that must be frustrating! Let me get Mrs.. SoandSo, she is the one that can help you with this."

I have used "do me a favor - take a deep breath" with people who are really upset. It gives them something to do/focus on for a second, and then you can say "I see you're upset. What I'm going to do is contact Dean Whoever. Why don't you sit down and write down what happened while I do that."

To me "take a deep breath" sounds just as if not even more condescending than "calm down".

I'd go with the "write down what happened" tactic.
 
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Fliss

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Re: "I don't want to calm down!"
« Reply #50 on: February 14, 2014, 04:33:49 AM »

Lots of experience being the person who's being steamed at here, and I always use the same approach. Doesn't matter how stressed or crying or yelling the person is, I always go with the following:

Hold both hands out, palms towards the stressee, and in a firm voice say "Wait." When they give you their attention, do a rolling motion with your hands and say "ok, first, breathe", and take a large breath. The stressee will unconsciously do this with you. Then, holding your hands palm down, say "now, calm breaths." Make the rolling motion again and breathe with the other person twice. Then offer a tissue box if available, or some water if there's any to hand, while saying "now, steady and calm." The tissues allow the stressee to focus on something else and breaks the moment.

Now you have control of the situation again, gently but firmly state what will happen. "Ok, you have an appointment with Professor Dinglebat at 3pm. We have a small cafe you can sit in and gather your thoughts until then." After that, you need to play it by ear.

The important bit is that you take control of the situation, reiterate what is going to happen, and be firm.
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Psychopoesie

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Re: "I don't want to calm down!"
« Reply #51 on: February 14, 2014, 05:42:05 AM »

Lots of experience being the person who's being steamed at here, and I always use the same approach. Doesn't matter how stressed or crying or yelling the person is, I always go with the following:

Hold both hands out, palms towards the stressee, and in a firm voice say "Wait." When they give you their attention, do a rolling motion with your hands and say "ok, first, breathe", and take a large breath. The stressee will unconsciously do this with you. Then, holding your hands palm down, say "now, calm breaths." Make the rolling motion again and breathe with the other person twice. Then offer a tissue box if available, or some water if there's any to hand, while saying "now, steady and calm." The tissues allow the stressee to focus on something else and breaks the moment.

Now you have control of the situation again, gently but firmly state what will happen. "Ok, you have an appointment with Professor Dinglebat at 3pm. We have a small cafe you can sit in and gather your thoughts until then." After that, you need to play it by ear.

The important bit is that you take control of the situation, reiterate what is going to happen, and be firm.

Sorry but this approach would totally wind me up, not calm me down. Maybe coming from someone I knew really really well (like a loved one). Even then...

From a complete stranger? Telling me to wait and then breathe calmly would come across as very condescending. It would seem like I hadn't been listened to, my feelings dismissed, and I was then ordered round by someone who appeared to feel superior to me. The hand gestures would just seem odd. YMMV. It's not a technique I've seen suggested before - maybe it's a new approach?

Having a range of strategies helps and finding the ones that work best for you (general you). That's where training can help big time. If dealing with these situations is part of your job, OP, please see if they offer some. It can really help give confidence in managing this sort of stuff - which is a pretty common one in any customer service environment.





Piratelvr1121

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Re: "I don't want to calm down!"
« Reply #52 on: February 14, 2014, 07:34:32 AM »
YMMV, but I don't really see "take a deep breath" as being condescending, though I suppose it could depend on the tone.   At least it doesn't affect me the same as "calm down" would. 

Course I did think of another phrase to *not* say: "Don't cry" cause for me, that'll ensure I'll cry more, only like a furious cry.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars.  You have a right to be here. Be cheerful, strive to be happy. -Desiderata

LadyL

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Re: "I don't want to calm down!"
« Reply #53 on: February 14, 2014, 09:31:22 AM »
YMMV, but I don't really see "take a deep breath" as being condescending, though I suppose it could depend on the tone.   At least it doesn't affect me the same as "calm down" would. 

Course I did think of another phrase to *not* say: "Don't cry" cause for me, that'll ensure I'll cry more, only like a furious cry.

I should clarify that "take a deep breath" is, in my experience, more appropriate for someone on the verge of crying, or actually crying, than someone who is angry and yelling. People who are angry don't often like being told what to do, period. Whereas people who are crying often feel desperate, overwhelmed, etc. and are looking for direction and help. At least that's been my experience.

TootsNYC

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Re: "I don't want to calm down!"
« Reply #54 on: February 14, 2014, 11:26:29 AM »
YMMV, but I don't really see "take a deep breath" as being condescending, though I suppose it could depend on the tone.   At least it doesn't affect me the same as "calm down" would. 

Course I did think of another phrase to *not* say: "Don't cry" cause for me, that'll ensure I'll cry more, only like a furious cry.

I should clarify that "take a deep breath" is, in my experience, more appropriate for someone on the verge of crying, or actually crying, than someone who is angry and yelling. People who are angry don't often like being told what to do, period. Whereas people who are crying often feel desperate, overwhelmed, etc. and are looking for direction and help. At least that's been my experience.

I so agree.

And I think tone of voice can be hugely helpful.

A smiling, friendly, encouraging tone will help almost any word choice go over better.

Piratelvr1121

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Re: "I don't want to calm down!"
« Reply #55 on: February 14, 2014, 01:49:09 PM »
YMMV, but I don't really see "take a deep breath" as being condescending, though I suppose it could depend on the tone.   At least it doesn't affect me the same as "calm down" would. 

Course I did think of another phrase to *not* say: "Don't cry" cause for me, that'll ensure I'll cry more, only like a furious cry.

I should clarify that "take a deep breath" is, in my experience, more appropriate for someone on the verge of crying, or actually crying, than someone who is angry and yelling. People who are angry don't often like being told what to do, period. Whereas people who are crying often feel desperate, overwhelmed, etc. and are looking for direction and help. At least that's been my experience.

That I will agree with.  For me being upset=cry, angry=cry, sympathy=cry, and embarrassed=cry. It's extremely annoying and tends to make me madder at myself which of course feeds the loop.  ::)  I wish it was something I could control, but it's very much an automatic thing with me. 

Though knowing this does make it easier to deal with as at least most times I will compose myself before going to talk to someone about it.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars.  You have a right to be here. Be cheerful, strive to be happy. -Desiderata

earthgirl

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Re: "I don't want to calm down!"
« Reply #56 on: February 14, 2014, 02:38:19 PM »
Stuff like this is relatively common in my workplace, because the demographic that I work with is often impulsive, confrontational, and also frequently failed by the system.  What I usually do in these situations:
1.  Acknowledge the student's anger/frustration.  "I can hear that you're angry about this."
2.  Tell them what I *can* do for them.  "What I'm going to do is put in a call/leave a note for..."

Sometimes I need to go through a few cycles of 1 & 2, and if I get nowhere I'll go to step 3:
3.  Ask them what they think I should be doing about it.  I know that this can be risky (since there's the chance that maybe they'll come up with an idea that you *can* do but don't want to, or that they don't understand is impossible), but in my experience when I ask my angry clients what exactly they would have me do (beyond what I already have done), it at least gives them pause.  Usually.   There have been a few people who apparently think I'm carrying around a time machine in my pocket, but you can't win them all.  OP, in your case, I might say something like, "Student, the advisor is on his way to come talk to you, is there something else you think I can help you with?"

I really like the idea that several PPs had of having the student write down her thoughts.  It's helpful to the student, but it also gets her out of your hair.

Agree to try to avoid using the phrase "calm down".  Depending on the situation, if they're just ranting and raving and repeating themselves, I might put my hand up and say, "Ok, let me see if I understand what's going on, what I'm hearing is that..." and then start step 1.


TootsNYC

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Re: "I don't want to calm down!"
« Reply #57 on: February 14, 2014, 02:46:30 PM »
And extract yourself.

You're not their therapist, their friend, none of that.

Once you've done what is specifically needed from you for the situation at hand, they need to leave you alone and go be upset somewhere else. They shouldn't be taking up your time and sapping your energy with their angst or anger.


And that's when you say, "I'm sorry, I need to get back to my work."

Raintree

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Re: "I don't want to calm down!"
« Reply #58 on: February 14, 2014, 03:26:43 PM »
"I can understand that you're angry, and I am doing my best to help you get to the right person. Please have a seat and  be angry over there someone will be with you shortly."

"But I want to be angry, rant rant rant, pay attention to me!!"

"That's understandable. Now let me work Someone will be with you shortly to work on a solution. Please have a seat."

RegionMom

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Re: "I don't want to calm down!"
« Reply #59 on: March 01, 2014, 05:59:54 PM »
Came home to find the litter box in dire need of help, b/c child one had not done their job the day before. 
Cue child one to inform child two it was their day.
I said I do not care who does it, jsut get it done.  (kids are in high school)

Two hours later, I pass by and still see it has not been done.

"Children, come forth and do the work that needs to be done for your elderly cat!"

Child one, "mom, calm down."

"What do you mean?  I am not yelling.  I am calling my children, to do a job that should not be reminded to do, and hours ago.  Just do it."

"Mom, we will do it when you calm down."

"Huh?"

"Yelling is not going to make us do it.  Find another way."

"I was not yelling; and yes, I am going to stay here until I see one or both of you making a move to clean the box."

"That is not a way to get us to work."

"What is?  What will you tell you kids when they do not do basic chores for an animal we have had 13 years?"

"I do not know.  But you need to calm down."

It was all I could do to not start yelling, having my 18 year old son patronize me.

DD finally did start working on the box.  Haphazardly.  At least the cat was happy enough.

DS's telling me to calm down was only making me mad.  poor cat!!
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