The Best Way to React When Someone Is Shouting at You in Anger
Wednesday, September 06, 2017 - Filed in: General Interest
Yelling is a topic relevant to every person on this planet because everyone has raised their voice in anger during their lifetime. Some people yell on a regular basis, but we are all guilty of yelling at some point in life. There are ways to react to a yeller that will help diffuse them, rather than continue to escalate the situation.
Yelling is not healthy for relationships and its results do not yield long term positive results. A person may acquiesce to a yeller at the moment to get them to stop yelling, but once things get back to normal, they typically revert back, because the yelling hasn’t changed their mindset long term. For example, a Mom who yells at her kids to pick up their toys may actually result in the kids picking up their toys in that moment. However, it won’t change their mindset that they should pick up their toys consistently. Kids will learn to pick up if they have been conditioned with a reward or punishment system and they recognize the importance and value of picking up their toys.
Yelling is damaging to relationships. It is not a constructive way to deal with a difficult situation, yet every person engages in yelling. Some more than others. You should be aware of your own yelling, understand why some people are constant yellers, and also know how to deal with a yeller.
When someone is constantly yelling at you in life, they are displaying emotional tyranny over you. Their goal is to gain an upper hand in the situation and the yelling is their means of gaining control over you. It is a form of intimidation. The yelling may work temporarily. However, the long term sustainability of the results from yelling is not good, because it is a way of bullying someone into getting them to do what the yeller wants done. Yelling is not healthy for relationships, in fact it breaks down healthy communications and the closeness of relationships.
Why Do People Yell?
“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” – Mark Twain
When someone is angry and they are yelling, there are a variety of reasons that they are yelling. Most reasons why they are yelling are not good reasons for yelling, so it’s important that the recipient react correctly, which is more about not being reactive. It is important to understand why someone is yelling, because most often yelling is indicative of issues in that person’s core psyche that have nothing to do with the recipient of the yelling. Their yelling is a reflection of their emotional instability, even though their yelling is intended to show strength and dominance in the situation. Below are some of the reasons a person yells when angry:
Poor coping skills
Many people yell because it is their go-to coping mechanism in difficult situations. But this coping mechanism does not have good long term results. If a person is a yeller because it is how they have learned to cope in life, they need to get some help in finding better ways in regulating their emotions. They may be using emotional outburst as their way of coping in life and this is not healthy for them or the recipients of their outbursts.
Loss of control
A person may be a yeller because they feel a loss of control over the situation. They may be overwhelmed by the thoughts, feelings, and emotions and are experiencing a loss of control over all of these things at once. It is a big jumble of confusion to them, so they yell to try to get control over what they are experiencing. They lack proper coping skills to regain feeling of control over the situation and their surroundings, so they resort to yelling in order to feel that they are in control. They may get that feeling of control, but it is most often temporary, because most problems are not solved through yelling. A person may appear compliment to the yeller, simply to calm that person down, but in reality nothing has been solved for the long term.
Bullies are often people who have a very sensitive core emotional psyche and they are trying to protect that core. Anytime they think this core is being threatened they react. Yelling is one tool that they proactively use anytime they feel threatened.
Some people are simply aggressive individuals. They may yell and the aggression may escalate to a physical altercation. You rarely see a physical fight that doesn’t begin with raised voices, shouting, or yelling. If someone is yelling at you and you don’t know this person well, you should be on your guard that the yelling can lead to a physical confrontation.
It is important to avoid reacting in an aggressive manner to someone who is an aggressive yeller, because it is like pouring fuel onto the fire of their anger and things can become physical. It is likely to become physical if they have these tendencies and you mirror their yelling.
Some people become yellers because they grew up in a household where their parents yelled on a regular basis. They learned that when conflicts arise, so do voices. They haven’t learned proper coping behaviors when they are faced with conflict and difficult situations. Yelling has always been their go-to reaction to situations in which they find any sort of turmoil.
Some people raise their voices and yell in anger because they feel the other person is not listening to them. They may have even repeated their message several times and finally they resort to yelling in anger because the other person had not responded to their other tone of voice. This is often the case of yelling while parenting. Parents feel their kids aren’t listening, so rather than continually repeating themselves, they yell at their kids. The problem is that this actually scares children. Yelling in anger is also very damaging to children and research shows that it can be just as harmful as physical abuse. Read more about The Only Effective Way to Talk With Children When They Are Acting Out
Reactions to Avoid with a Yeller
The worst possible reaction to a yeller is to mirror their behavior. Things do not go well if you yell at someone who is yelling at you. The situation escalates when both people engage in yelling. There are other reactions that can escalate the situation which should also be avoided and include: baiting the yeller, challenging what they are saying, acting defensive, and criticizing the person during the confrontation.
There are better ways to deal with a yeller. Below are the steps you should use to handle and hopefully diffuse a yeller.
1. Stay calm and don’t feed into their anger. Remember that when a person is yelling, it is not you that has the problem, it is them. They have poor coping skills or another reason for yelling that has nothing to do with you personally. If you react they will react to your reaction and things will continue to escalate. Remain calm, even if you are seething on the inside. It is not worth feeding into their yelling, as the situation will just get worse and things are rarely resolved when two parties are yelling at one another. Problems are more likely to be solved when calm tones are being used. Be a part of the solution and not the problem by remaining calm and using a calm tone of voice.
2. Take a mental step back to assess the situation. Before taking any action in the situation, pause mentally to assess things. This will allow you to figure out whether it is worth waiting out the yeller or to leave the situation. If you are being yelled at by a casual acquaintance and you don’t care if you offend them by walking away from them, then by all means walk away. You don’t have to subject yourself to someone’s abuse and mistreatment if they are not important to your life. If it’s your boss yelling at you and you know that walking away while your boss is yelling mid sentence may cost you your job, maybe you need to think about waiting it out and address the yelling with the boss later if it is a constant occurrence and it is now disruptive to your ability to work effectively.
3. Do not agree with the yeller to diffuse them, as it encourages future yelling. If you agree with the yeller to diffuse them and subsequently agree to do something or say something that they are asking, you are condoning their yelling. By being agreeable to someone who is yelling at you, it only encourages them to yell at you to get their way in the future. Avoid this type of diffusing method, it will come back to bite you again in the future and you will find yourself subject to their yelling more often.
4. Calmly address the yelling. In most instances when someone is yelling at you, your emotions are evoked and you feel the need to react. Reacting with yelling, criticism, or other negative responses will escalate the situation, you need to do everything in your power to reel in your thoughts and feelings so you can address the real problem, which is their yelling. Let the person know that you will not accept being yelled at, regardless of the situation or problem. Say this politely and calmly, and you are more likely to have a positive reaction, such as an apology or at least make them aware that they are in fact yelling. Some people don’t even realize they are yelling. Then your next step is to ask for a break away from this person.
5. Ask for a break from this person. After you have calmly addressed the yelling, the next step is to request that you take a break from this person to think. You may also need the time to calm down yourself, as their yelling has caused your adrenaline to rise sky high and you don’t know how much longer you can hold it all inside. When you are asking for a break from the person, it should be more of a statement than a question, especially if it’s not your boss. If it’s a spouse, friend, or someone else, it is completely acceptable to state that you need a break and time (a few minutes, a day, or whatever YOU need) to think things through in order to respond appropriately and calmly.
6. When you feel your emotions have calmed down, and you know how to address whatever it was they were yelling about, you can now go back to talk to the person. Give yourself time to process the situation, what was said, and how you want to respond. For some situations, for example an in-law relationship, this can take a few days as emotions can take longer to de-escalate. If it’s a boss and you know you can’t sit on the issue for long because there are deadlines or your job at stake, then use some calming techniques such as deep breathing or visualization methods to process the situation more quickly, so you can get back to them sooner than later. Here’re 3 Deep Breathing Exercises recommendations for you.
Moving Forward on Better Terms
Because you have taken the time to let the person know that the yelling is not acceptable and you took time away from the person immediately following the yelling, the person is less likely to yell at you now. If they want to move forward with the subject, they will need to remain calm in order to discuss the topic with you. Not only are you standing up for yourself and showing this person you will not be emotionally abused, you are also helping them to see that their behavior is not acceptable. If more people did this when someone yelled at them, we all would be more conditioned to avoid yelling in the first place.
If the yelling is something that has been habitual and your new course of actions have not changed their behavior, it is perhaps time to ask them for a sit down to discuss their yelling. When you have the sit down let the person know how the yelling affects you. For example, you feel deeply sad after a yelling episode and don’t want to be around them for a while. Also let them know how it affects your relationship. For example, that it creates an emotional chasm between you and them. If they respond with “that’s just who I am” let them know that its not acceptable.
Some people also don’t know how to change their behavior. Professional help (such as therapy, counseling, or anger management classes) are available for people who have issues with yelling. They need to recognize that the problem is affecting their relationship and change is needed in order to heal the relationship.
Yelling causes damage, so don’t allow them to continue to damage you or your relationship by tolerating their yelling.
Note: This a reprint of an article by Dr. Magdalena Battles that appears on the Lifehack web site.