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How to Respond to an Overreaction Without Losing Your Cool

When someone overreacts, you don’t want to make it worse, so how do you respond to an overreaction and keep your cool? Sometimes we need to grow up.

How to Respond to an Overreaction

Learning how to respond to an overreaction is something we all can be better at. We have all dealt with people overreacting to some news, a mistake, or something else.

Whether your partner was pissed you spilled wine on the carpet, your parent is upset you’re moving in with your partner before being married, or your boss yelled at you for a simple and fixable mistake, your response to that overreaction sets the tone.

The way you respond to an overreaction shows your ability to remain calm in tense situations. It sets a tone for all future hurdles that arise. It also leads to the conclusion or agitation of the current situation.

[Read: How to resolve conflict and cut out the drama!]

Your first response to an overreaction

When someone overreacts to something we did or said, our first response is usually to get defensive. We overreact back. What does this lead to? A fight, a deeper problem, and more overreactions on top of overreactions.

Overreacting is a normal and natural part of being a human with personal relationships. With that, it is still unhealthy and unproductive.

Just because someone overreacts to you, it doesn’t mean you have to overreact back. This all comes back to treating others how you want to be treated.

[Read: Hacks for ways to calm down and put the crazy away]

If you want people to be respectful, understanding, and calm with you, treat them that way in return.

Let’s think of an example where someone overreacts to you, and you have the opportunity to keep your cool and prevent the situation from getting too intense.

You are in your early twenties and living at home, but you and your significant other decide to move in together. You tell your parents your news. Instead of supporting you, they are very upset. They think it is wrong and irresponsible to move in with someone before being married. They tell you they feel hurt and betrayed by you making this choice to leave them.

Your initial response might be anger and sadness. You want your parents to be happy that you’re happy and moving forward. You are upset that they would make this about them and their beliefs when it is your life but you also love them and don’t want to hurt them. Of course, that wasn’t your intention.

If you responded with your initial feelings, what would happen? Would the situation be resolved or would it cause more problems?

[Read: How to stop being angry and stop hurting yourself and those you love]

How to respond to an overreaction

Instead of reacting to an overreaction, take a few steps to handle the situation in a calm and productive manner.

Your first instinct may be to overreact right back or accuse the person you’re dealing with of overreacting. Instead of taking these immediate steps, learn how to respond to an overreaction while keeping your cool.

#1 Never tell them they are overreacting. The worst thing to do when someone is overreacting is to tell them they are doing that. To them, their response is entirely reasonable. Telling someone they are overreacting is dismissing their feelings no matter how wrong you think they are.

When you do that, you are gaslighting them. You are diminishing their feelings and only making them feel worse which in turn aggravates the entire situation. [Read: How to treat people better and live a much happier life in return]

#2 Realize their feelings are valid. Just because you think someone is overreacting doesn’t mean they are. In your mind, you label them as crazy or insane; when in fact, they have a right to their feelings, just as you do.

Sure, they may not have thought things through, but their response is not wrong just because you don’t like it. Just as your initial reaction is not wrong, neither is theirs. Their reaction may not be productive, but it is theirs and it is valid.

Before you respond, consider that they are not just trying to push your buttons, but are actually feeling hurt or upset. Take into account their feelings, no matter how bizarre they seem to you.

#3 Put yourself in their shoes. Yes, this is a cliche, but it is because it works. Switch the situation. How would you react in this situation? Can you understand why they are so upset? You may have different ideals or beliefs but knowing theirs, does their reaction make sense?

If you can try to see where this person is coming from, you can be more rational and calm when interacting with them. [Read: How to control your emotions and be the pinnacle of restraint]

#4 Take a step back. If you can’t remain calm when interacting with someone you believe is overreacting, take a step back. Tell them you feel you’re both too upset and the feelings are too fresh to hash things out right now.

If you both take some time to cool off and think about things from the other side, you can sort something out and come to an agreement.

#5 Talk it out calmly. Once the initial anger, frustration, or pain has worn off, you should be able to have an honest conversation. Avoid accusing the other person of anything. Ask them why they felt so strongly. Explain why you did what you did.

If you both share your desired outcome, you should be able to come to an understanding and compromise. [Read: Here’s how to grow up, be mature, and live like an adult]

#6 Stay true to yourself. When someone overreacts and you don’t like confrontation, you may be prone to giving in. Even if you feel right and sure about your decision, you may fold to avoid an argument or misunderstanding. It may seem like the easiest choice in the moment, but this can lead to a pattern of letting others’ reactions control you.

If you feel strongly about something, stand your ground. When someone overreacts and you just want to calm them down, you let go of your beliefs and can get used to doing that to avoid any confrontation. Instead, stand up for yourself. Calm confrontations are healthy for relationships. They help build your strength and character. Stay true to yourself when dealing with someone overreacting.

It will help you gain patience when dealing with similar situations in the future.

When you let someone’s overreaction affect you in the moment, it only leads to more anger and reacting. Taking your time to calmly respond is the best way to deal with overreactions from anyone.

The more time you take to cool off, the better the situation will work out for everyone.

It is easy to let your gut react in sensitive situations, but if you can control your feelings and let your mind do the work you can enhance your relationships and keep things from getting out of hand.

[Read: How to have a difficult conversation without losing your nerve]

Learning how to respond to an overreaction and keep your cool can help you in all aspects of life. use these tips to understand why someone is overreacting when they do, and learn to deal with them in a calm and sensitive way.

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Samantha Ann
It was always my dream to become an advice columnist, so after years of off and online dating and eventually finding a wonderful relationship, I have decided to...