A friend of mine is having issues with someone in his building. As the president of his condo board, he interacts with a wide variety of personalities. One woman, in particular, had been making demands of him, yelling and "berating" him to do something she wanted.
"No, absolutely not. I will not be doing what she wants. Especially in the way she is asking," he tells me.
And how could you blame him? How inclined would you feel to do something where the person is yelling at you to do it? And if you did do what they asked, it would most likely be out of shame, fear or guilt -- as a way to stop them from yelling at you.
This is not an uncommon sight. People yell at each other all the time. You would think this is a natural and normal way that we humans communicate.
But if we take a deeper look at why we end up yelling at each other, it may not seem so normal and natural after all.
I invite you to contemplate this line: "There is no need to yell when people feel heard."
Yelling, in and of itself, is a form of communication. Regardless of the words, the yelling itself is an expression of, "I don't feel heard and understood."
And feeling heard and understood is a fundamental human need. When we don't have that need met, we take actions to fulfill on that need.
The woman yelling at my friend was likely experiencing the same thing. In fact, when I brought this up to my friend, he noticed things that he had completely missed before. It turns out she had made efforts to have herself heard before she started yelling. Months prior, she had put up a sign in the elevator and had spoken to him and other tenants numerous times about the issue.
Lo and behold, after months of not producing any results, she resorted to a communication tool that has likely worked for her in the past - yelling.
So take note: if you ever find someone starting to raise their voice, it is likely (in large part) due to the fact that they don't feel heard and understand. It's actually that simple!
Now here is the kicker: It is not about whether you heard them, it is about whether THEY feel heard.
It's possible that my friend initially heard the woman loud and clear. However, she did not receive the communication. He did not let her know that he had heard her. She did not feel heard.
And that is where the communication breakdown actually started.
So, the next time you encounter yelling or shouting in your life, make sure to check-in and ensure that they feel heard.
That can look like:
- Repeat back what you heard them say
- Acknowledge their feelings, validate them and how they feel
- Listen for what they are committed to (in the background of what they are saying)
Have you had this experience happen to you before? How did you handle it?