When I was a young manager, I yelled at one of my staff. While I may have been justifiably angry, I chose to express it by raising my voice and losing my cool. I didn’t say anything mean or cruel; I started yelling to get my point across. She fired back and stormed out of my office, and then proceeded to quietly make my life miserable for the next few months.
If you choose to yell, understand that you are unlikely to get the results you want. If you want to change someone’s behavior, or to drive a point home, it’s probably just going to backfire on you. You can seriously damage relationships, and not just with those at whom you are yelling. It’s almost a guarantee that he or she is going to tell others about what happened. Everyone loves a yelling story, it’s like real life reality TV and will spread like wildfire. Just this week I heard two different stories about someone yelling at someone. “OMG…he was so crazy mad, I think there is something seriously wrong with him. Like something wrong with his brain, or maybe the mob is after him. I bet he hates me because I so good at what I do and he is jealous.”
What is considered yelling? Everyone defines it differently, depending on how they were raised. However, most agree that it’s a strong angry outburst directed at an individual or a group. And here’s the thing, when we start yelling, the higher functioning part of the brain turns off and the primitive part of the brain turns on. If you’re the yeller, you lose the ability to think rationally. If you’re the receiver, you might go into the “fight or flight” response. When I was yelling at my staff member, I lost the ability to listen and understand what is going on for her. Her brain was working on how to fight back and protect her self-esteem.
If you are on the receiving end, you need to protect yourself and keep from becoming pulled into the anger. Here is a great 2,500 year old story about how to deal with a yeller:
The Buddha was visiting a small Indian village, and people spontaneously gathered around to hear him speak. Among the listeners was a young man. While listening to Buddha, he lost track of time and forgot about the work that was waiting for him on his father’s farm. The son’s father went looking for him. When found him, he went up to the Buddha and started screaming and scolding him. He accused Buddha of teaching children to walk away from their responsibilities.
Buddha smiled and said: “When I come to your house with a gift and you accept the gift, then who does the gift belong to?”
“To me, of course,” replied the father, caught slightly off guard.
“And if you would refuse the gift, then who would it belong to?” The man, irritated about this strange question, replied: “To you of course, but what does this have to do with anything?”
Then Buddha said: “Your gift to me in this moment is anger and I refuse the gift. So the anger stays with you.”
Wouldn’t it be great to have that much control over your emotions? The next time someone yells at you, practice letting them keep their wonderful gift. What you will find is that you will have a better response to their anger. Whether it’s someone yelling at you for not using your turn signal, or a horrible toxic situation at work, you will be in a better space to make good decisions.
”Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.” ~ Dalai Lama
How have you dealt with yelling?