7 Things Firefighters Should Never Say
By Dr. George J. Thompson
6. “CALM DOWN!”
Consider this verbal blunder. You approach some angry folks and you most naturally say, “Hey, calm down!” This command never works, so why do we always use it? Because it flows naturally from our lips!
What’s wrong with it? One, the phrase is a criticism of their behavior and suggests that they have no legitimate right to be upset. This means that rather than reassuring them that things will improve, which should be your goal, you have created a new problem. Not only were they upset to begin with, but now they need to defend their reaction to you. Double the trouble!
What’s more appropriate, is to put on a calming face and demeanor, look the person in the eye and say gently, “It’s going to be all right. Talk to me. What’s the matter?” The phrase "What’s the matter?’ softens the person up to talk and calm down; where ‘Calm down’ hardens the resistance. The choice is yours.