art work by John Ceprano
CINERGY (tm) - Peacebuilding... one person at a time

“Don’t get your panties in a knot”

I smile when I hear the expression “Don’t get your panties in a knot” and another variation like “Don’t get your knickers in a knot”. My brief research to discover the meaning yielded only that it originated from “some silliness” on The Basil Brush Show – a British television program in the 60’s. The general meaning appears to be about telling people to not get excited or upset by something. It is common when some people are in conflict, for instance, to try to ‘shush’ the other person – to stop them from expressing their emotions or otherwise reacting to us or the situation.

For me, such an expression, or others like “calm down” and “just settle down” or body language that is meant to hush someone who is visibly upset, creates tension rather than prevents it. What may be meant as a well-intended gesture or remark can easily be misinterpreted and assumed to be patronizing. Such comments or demonstrations may even perpetuate negative reactions, being experienced also as dismissive. For many it feels like a way to shut down the conversation and not take seriously what is being said or felt.

For this week’s ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) blog, consider a time when you tried to calm someone down (with whom you were in conflict) or when someone said something to you that appeared to have the same intent.

  • What did you say or do in an effort to calm down someone who was upset?
  • What was your intention when you did so?
  • What exactly was it that you wanted to calm down or stop?
  • Why did you find it important or necessary to do so?
  • How did the other person respond to your efforts?
  • How may she or he have interpreted your efforts that may not be what you intended?
  • What other ways may you have responded?
  • When others have tried to calm you down, what have they said or done that has irritated you?
  • Why do those particular words, gestures, etc. provoke you?
  • What would be more effective ways for someone to respond to you rather than trying to hush you?

What other ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) may you add here?

This entry was posted in Emotions in Conflict, Reactions. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to “Don’t get your panties in a knot”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *