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

Yelling in Conflict

As long as I can remember when I heard people yell at each other, or one person yelling at someone, I reacted internally with fear. I do not know how to articulate my fears. I just know there was something unnerving for me. When I began to work in the conflict management field I was increasingly exposed to situations in which people yelled and I became more and more aware of the range of things that seemed to incite people to scream at one another. To do my work effectively, I reflected on my angst and tried to understand what was happening for people who yell.

Based on my observations, it is evident that people yell at one another (or one yells at someone) for a wide range of reasons, such as when they are very hurt, as an outlet for built up frustrations and other feelings, to win a fight, to make a point, to reject someone or an idea, to assert power, to put someone down, to defend one’s view, or to hurt another person. It may be that for people who yell other ways of expressing what is important to them have not worked. Or, the emotional pain may be so deep that yelling seems like the only way of coping.

For all intents and purposes, yelling is not a productive way to manage interpersonal conflict. What I have seen is that it often serves to heighten the tension, discord, and emotions. What’s not as obvious for me is whether people who yell when in conflict are aware or care in those moments if it helps or hinders the situation or the relationship. I think not.

If you tend to yell or can think of an occasion or occasions when you did so, please consider a specific situation when answering today’s ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions):

  • What happened in the specific situation that resulted in you yelling at the other person?
  • What did you yell?
  • What did it feel like to yell?
  • What were you aiming to achieve by yelling?
  • What point(s) do you know you made when you yelled? What point(s) did you not get across?
  • What were you feeling at the time about the other person? Yourself?
  • How did the other person respond?
  • How did yelling help the relationship? Hinder it?
  • When someone has yelled at you how did you feel about yourself? The other person?
  • Besides yelling, what else may have worked in the specific situation you referred to at the beginning?

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

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