If you yell, I won’t listen.

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If there’s something that I can’t stand in a person, it’s yelling at someone. If you are a grown adult, don’t yell at another grown adult. It makes you sounds idiotic and just plain mean. And I won’t listen to you. I’ll lose all respect for you.

I was in a situation last week where I had to deal with listening to someone scream at another person who was trying to help them. All week. I was disgusted… it was unnecessary and just plain horrible. There’s nothing worse than watching an adult yell at someone like they’re a child. If you’re angry, frustrated, disappointed… there’s always another way to convey it. Use your words. Take a deep breath, regroup, then tell the person what you really mean to say. Respect everyone, even those you are angry with, as a human being capable of human emotions. Yelling does nothing but show them how awful you really are. It does nothing but hurt them.

I learned how to express my anger through improv. When you first start improvising, you learn that you should never fight onstage. Fighting is cheap and goes nowhere. It doesn’t move your point across and will eventually make everyone uncomfortable. It shows your scene partner that instead of making an emotional connection with them, you’re only interested in showing your authority over them. So what happens is that you spend about a year never having a single “fight” onstage. You’re almost always happy… or expressing some form of happiness.

Then you’re taught how to convey negative emotions in a constructive way. You can feel angry in a scene… but you have to understand that it’s not just anger. So you can’t just scream at someone. For example, I was in a scene where my husband had a gambling problem that he was just telling me about. He lost all of our money. As an improviser, you’re also an actor. You want the audience to find you believable. So the basic human instinct was that I was angry. Okay, that’s justified. But is it really only anger? Of course not. Dissect it and you’ll find that it’s really disappointment. I felt betrayed, sad, embarrassed and as if all my trust was taken in that moment. Why? Because I loved my husband. That’s what it is at the core. I was angry because I loved him so much and he betrayed me. You are taught to express that. Don’t just start yelling. Have a conversation. Find out the story. Give him an ultimatum. Tell him why you’re hurt… what this now means… how it is going to affect the rest of your life. Then find a way to fix it. Don’t just yell. Yelling is cheap and hurtful. And it gets you nowhere.

So, I hold this true in real life. If you’re going to yell at me then I’m not going to listen. You’re not doing me the decency of expressing your true emotion and feelings surrounding the subject. You’re only trying to hurt me. I won’t give you that satisfaction. If you have something to say to me, pull me aside and tell me. Let me know that I disappointed you. Then we can find a way to fix whatever I did wrong. Don’t just yell.

In the end, you want it to be fixed, right? Whatever problem is at hand needs to go away eventually. Take the time that you would have spent yelling and instead convey your disappointment through words. Through a conversation. Instead of the person completely shutting you out, you’ll be able to find a way for the problem to be fixed.

I’m not saying that it’s easy. I’m not saying that I’m perfect. But next time you feel your blood boiling, next time you just want to grab someone and scream your lungs out, walk outside instead. Scream into your pillow. Meditate. Do whatever it takes for you to regroup and understand why you’re really mad. Then go back and convey your emotions in a humane and constructive way.

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