“Tone it Down”

For some reason, this bothered me so much.

For context, let’s talk about what the phrase “tone it down” means. Normally people use this phrase when you are too loud, or too emotional.

In either situations, the phrase “tone it down” is never truly helpful to anyone. Whether you are in a public space or a private space, someone that has a heightened emotional reaction, won’t be listening to “tone it down”.

Now, let’s be reasonable. If you are in a life threatening situation and your hiding, you should probably be quiet, but this is not the case.

Whether the person is validated in feeling the emotion or not, telling them to shut down because they are reacting too emotional not only creates a barrier between you and them, but shows a lot about the person saying “tone it down.”

When you are focused on how loud someone is, whether they are crying or angry, and you’re focused on their reaction and what people will think of the reaction, or if the reaction is making other people stare and, or be uncomfortable, you don’t care. You either:

  1. Care about all the stranger’s opinions that you don’t know and will never interact with in your life.
  2. Care about people that are okay, rather than the person who is actually in pain.
  3. Care about yourself and your self image and how other people see you.
  4. Feel entitled that an emotional reaction means a weak, uncontrolled person.
  5. Are focused on the external factors rather than using your words to help reassure someone to feel the calmness that you are trying to get them to feel.
  6. Are not focused on the actual issue.

When someone is feeling an emotion that needs to be vented out or communicated out, and they are too loud, at that point, you have not been listening, or that person has not been heard. So automatically their natural instinct is to speak louder. If you want to be a safe place for that person, then know that they will tone it down when they have felt heard. If you are in a private space and they are venting loudly, you should identify that volume as the level of pain and grief that someone experiences.

Telling them to “tone it down”, immediately makes the assumption that they are in a superior position to tell you what to do, that you are not a safe space because you don’t care about the issue and the pain, you care more about the environment that you are in and the people in it. Or you feel that the expression of emotion is something to be embarrassed about or it’s an uncontrollable, unattractive reaction.

but it’s not.

Yes, there is a time and place for everything, but there are so many things you can say other than tone it down. If you want to de-escalate an emotion, then you need to show them that you are listening, that you want to listen. And if it is not the time and place, you let them know that you are so sorry about what is happening, and would love to be there for them and ask if there is a time that you both can talk about it.

Not only does that person feel heard, their emotions de-escalate, they feel safe. No buts, no comments saying that this is an “inappropriate place to speak loudly”. Just purely, you wanting to listen, but wanting to find a place that we can safely talk.

So rather than telling someone to “tone it down”, LISTEN. Listen to what that person has to say, feel the emotion and the pain that came from the volume of their voice. Be that person they can feel safe with. And if there needs to be a better place, let them know you want to be there for them, and talk about when you can meet them in a safe place.

There is nothing wrong with your emotion. There’s nothing wrong with being an expressive person. Pick people wisely.

Leave a Reply