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To quote common sense and Alexander McCall Smith, “You don’t change people by shouting at them”. Well, maybe you do, but not in the direction urged by the tirade.

If you are being shouted at, on the other hand, you can change the shouter. Recognise the shouting as an indicator of their emotional state, and respond with insight to that – rather than the words – and it may enable you to take control of the conversation.

4 Responses to “Can Shouting Change Behaviour?”

  1. Do say more Barry. How might one respond apart from going into denial, being frightened, walking away or retaliating? Each situation will be different of course, but I wonder if there are any strategies to help one not go into reactivity?

  2. in a situation like this myself right now. with an employee shouting. Remaining calm and stating that we can enter into a civilized conversation where all points of view can be explored as soon as the volume has decreased. My calmness appears to be causing more vengeance and frustration. it is difficult to remain calm but raising to the volume of the person concerned would be completely inappropriate.

  3. Thank you for your comment, sorry about the shouting employee.
    You said: “Remaining calm and stating that we can enter into a civilized conversation where all points of view can be explored as soon as the volume has decreased”.
    My post said: “Recognise the shouting as an indicator of their emotional state, and respond with insight to that – rather than the words…”

    Trying to persuade someone who is upset with reason just underlines the distance between you, and as you’ve discovered can make things worse.
    Resolving conflict starts with both sides feeling heard, but ‘heard’ doesn’t just mean the words. As I said in the post, one must respond empathetically to the emotional state. Difficult when you are being shouted at, I know, but there it is. This means leaving the ‘dispute’ on one side for the moment and attending to the relationship (how you are interacting together). I realise that this is what your words are intended to convey to the other person, but they unintentionally widen the gap.

    Though I’d like to, I can’t give more explanation here because it requires more space than I have in a comment, so I have two resources I can offer you that explain more fully.
    1) I’ll send you a complimentary copy of my book Difficult People; a Guide to Handling Difficult Behaviour. I wrote it specifically about workplace situations,
    2) I can send you a link to a video I made that explains in 10 minutes how to defuse this type of conflict. The video is not publicly available at the moment, so you’ll need to email so that I can reply with the link.
    I hope this helps, let me know by email where to send the book if you’d like it.

  4. Can you let me know where to respond by email and i will send some details.

    on a positive note situation yesterday was handled more delicately than my comment suggested and hopefully member of staff feeling a bit more reassured but will not shout in the workplace again.

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