Shhhhh! I can’t hear you when you yell.

I was recently reminded of something I know, but usually don’t have to consider. When people yell at one another, it is very hard to hear. Obviously, I am not intending to be literal. Of course, the volume of yelling ensures that we can hear. But yelling interferes with our ability to hear the intended message – other than: I’m angry, I’m hurt, I’m scared…and any other emotional interpretation. That is, if we can get past the yelling to hear even that.

At the time of this event, I was just annoyed that people were yelling in the workplace and there did not appear to be a good reason. However, in hindsight, I can recognize that the yellers were both hurt. The one who continued to raise their voice after I indicated I would not hang around to listen to them yell at one another, was also feeling scared, angry, misunderstood, disrespected, and confused. The problem is that I could not hear that at the time due to all of the yelling.

Think about the last time you heard someone yell. Now consider the most recent situation in which someone whispered. To which did you attend more? Possibly the yelling because it does sometimes signal danger. However, to which did you attend more closely? My guess…the whisper.

Speak softly and carry a big stick. ~ Theodore Roosevelt

While President Roosevelt was referring to foreign policy, the message is still quite clear. Yelling and blustering do not garner respect and trust in the long run. Instead, speaking softly, carefully, and clearly, while being willing to follow through on one’s promises and declarations, is much more powerful.

I have recently begun meditating (today was day 22). The program I am using (headspace.com) does cost to subscribe and may not be the choice for all. This particular program teaches a mindfulness-based process and encourages participants to take what they learn in meditation throughout the day. Basically, drawing back to awareness of now each time the mind wanders off into thought. By now, you may be wondering what this has to do with yelling.

Many of our emotions are based on judgments from past experiences or worries about the future. If we are each in the present (not thinking of the past or worrying about the future), there is much less emotional baggage. We are simply experiencing the now with openness and curiosity. Neither give rise to yelling. Meditation may actually increase our ability to relate to one another in a gracious, kind way (also not compatible with yelling). According to the blog (link below):

…kindness may be so ingrained in us that it only takes a moment of mindfulness to let it out, in as little or big a gesture, reminding us of our inevitable connection to one another

Is Compassion Learned or Hard-Wired?

Just a thought: next time you feel a yell coming on, stop; take a few deep breaths; bring yourself into the moment; truly see the person at whom you planned to yell; and see if you can respond in a different way. A way that allows you both to hear what you are really trying to say.

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