Hearing screams is never a pleasant experience. When other people speak to you with their voices raised, it's normal to feel intimidated, scared, and diminished in your ability to respond appropriately. But the key to dealing with this situation is realizing that the one who is using a flawed communication technique is the other person. Luckily, you're not the one who lost control, meaning you are able to take steps to manage your feelings and interact more effectively.
Part 1 of 3: Staying Calm
Step 1. Resist the urge to scream too
The less you react to provocations, the more you can use your judgment to deal with the challenge. When you feel nervous or challenged by someone, take a deep breath and slowly count to ten before saying or doing something you might later regret.
- Also avoid all forms of criticism and defense. Yelling back is just one way to respond reactively rather than proactively.
- Criticizing who is screaming or challenging what the person says will provoke them even more. Also, we don't usually think very well when we hear screams, as we are put in a state of fear.
Step 2. Evaluate your options
You are never completely stuck in this situation, no matter if the screamer is a stranger who has lost his temper in line, or your boss, or your partner. So let go of the moment long enough to see whether or not you need to wait until the screaming ends.
- You may decide that it's not worth losing your job to escape the moment, but you can start looking for other options if screaming is a recurrent phenomenon or if the person yelling isn't important enough to bear it.
- Research shows that even if the screams are "for love," they are still as damaging and ineffective as any others. That is, no matter what the intention of the person who screams, you are being subjected to a treatment that is never appropriate, let alone ideal.
Step 3. Avoid turning a blind eye to the behavior
We scream when we feel we are so overwhelmed by something that we can't think of any other way to handle the situation other than regressing to the use of brute force. If you gratify the screamer with a well-thought-out response, you are affirming that kind of communication.
If you mentally find yourself finding holes in the arguments and complaints of whoever is screaming, continue. This can be your way of showing yourself that you are in control and have the upper hand. But be careful not to focus too much on your own thoughts and not watch
Step 4. Take the focus off of yourself
Allow yourself to disconnect from what you are experiencing so as not to take anything personally. The best way to do this without losing the perspective of the moment is to empathize with the screamer. Focus on the pain and strain on her face. Instead of listening to what the person is saying, notice the despair and frustration they are feeling.
- Remember that you are not validating the screams, you are empathizing to find something in the person that you can feel compassion for when it comes time to respond.
- Project peace any way you can, but don't start putting on a cheesy little show of false serenity. It can further irritate the person, who may interpret the gesture as teasing or complacency. A good way to project peace is to express genuine surprise at the person's attitude. In this way, you can show that you are amazed and indicate that the screams bother you.
Part 2 of 3: Responding in a way to defuse the situation
Step 1. Take time to cool off
If the situation allows, say as calmly as you can that you need a few minutes to calm down before answering the topic of screaming. Just say that the screams were too much and that you'd rather talk in five minutes to collect yourself. This gesture will also give the person who was screaming space they didn't even know they needed.
The next conversation will also be less likely to turn into a fight. By making this request, you are still showing the person who yelled that they provoked a strong response, and that was probably their goal
Step 2. Start a conversation about her behavior
Tell the person how the screams are making you feel. Include what you observed about the situation (eg, "I'm having trouble concentrating on what you're saying because of the volume"), and how you felt (eg, "When someone yells at me, I get confused and nervous").
- For example, your partner may be screaming because you forgot to bring tickets to the concert you were going to see. When the screaming stops a little, tell the person that you feel overwhelmed and threatened. You might also mention that you noticed that people passing by looked on with surprise or pity. That way, your partner will focus on feelings other than his own.
- Another situation is hearing screams from the boss because of an error in sending an invoice to the customer. Tell your boss that you feel uncomfortable and vulnerable when his voice is raised above normal, and that it's harder to focus on your work when you feel you need to protect yourself.
Step 3. Ask the screaming to stop
If you say how the screams affect you in a negative way, it's reasonable to ask them not to happen again. To avoid escalating the screamer's anger, say something like, "I can't really hear when someone is screaming, and I care what you have to say. Would you be willing to present the problem in a lower tone of voice, like what are we using now?”.
- Be specific when placing your order. Even though it seems obvious that a normal voice is better than shouting, be clear about the tone you want them to use. Being specific, as in the example above, means not saying something like, "Why don't you talk normally?"
- If you feel that the person is overly sensitive or will take your request personally, lighten up the conversation with some positive remarks as well. Think about the issues this person brings up at other times and mention how much you appreciate, for example, their willingness to show their determination.
Step 4. Speak in a low voice
Speaking in a soft, measured tone is a great way to change the course of the interaction. The person who is screaming will feel forced to sound more like you because of the clear contrast their voice will provide. Another benefit is that the person will have to work harder to listen to you, and so will need to change their own psychological state a little to hear you. That way, the focus will automatically shift from the anger and intensity of the moment to the content of what you're saying.
Step 5. Decide if you want to reconcile
Now that you've taken steps to calm the situation, you can choose whether you want to reconcile with the person or leave. When making this decision, take into account your relationship with her, when you will have to see her again, and how much you need completion to overcome an uncomfortable situation.
- If you are unable or unwilling to cut off relationships with the person, try to remember to empathize with them. After all, screaming is ultimately a symptom of discontent stemming from passion and the importance you attach to something.
- If you prefer to leave, remember that your next encounter with the person can be tense.
Part 3 of 3: Responding to Protect Yourself from Danger
Step 1. Know your rights
It is important to know what your rights are in these situations. Boost your self-confidence and dispel the fear that comes with the moment by reviewing some of these rights in your mind. For example, you always have the right to be treated with dignity and respect, as well as the right to your own space.
- In the workplace, your right to a peaceful, non-violent environment may be obscured by your job title or the attitude you need to sustain. But even if your superiors have more right to assert themselves at work, you ever you can resist situations in which you fear for your well-being. If the screaming continues, consult your human resources department or the employee guide for specific employee conflict resolution policies.
- When a romantic partner is yelling at you, it's easy to feel like you need to put up with it, out of love or the desire to stay in the relationship. But try to see that the screams are now part of that relationship that you so eagerly try to sustain. You have the right to express your needs in any relationship, and not feeling threatened or overwhelmed is one of the most basic needs.
Step 2. End communication
If the person who yells does so often, and you've already tried to say how bad their behavior is for you, cutting off communication may be the best way to protect yourself. Depending on the relationship you have with the person, you may be able to completely avoid confrontation by sending a brief letter or email that explains that you no longer want to communicate. You have the right to say when enough is enough.
Step 3. Ask for help
Does the person not seem to calm down? Are you afraid it could threaten your life? If you feel that the situation has escalated and has become a real danger, don't wait to contact the emergency services. If the danger is immediate, you can call the police…