Are you a “yeller”? Yelling at your kids, your dog, your spouse, your siblings, your parents, your friends?
I do fall into this pattern at times: yelling at my kids more than I intend. Either after a bad day, a tiring day, or long stretches of grey weather. It is futile and literally has no effect on the outcome (except that I feel awful and they avoid me)…
…so why do we do it???
In general, yelling at another person is a punishment. From behaviorism research and theory, punishment is the least effective way to get another human to change their behavior…so…
…why do we do it???
In general, yelling at another person is a REWARD to the yeller…and we know that behaviors that are reinforced (it feels good and it relieves our pressure/stress) are likely to continue. The fact that we feel calmer after blowing off steam keeps us coming back to it time and again, even though it does not get the results we want! So many times we want to blame others or say things like “I don’t know why I did that”, so I am here to unveil this conundrum. We yell because yelling rewards US. We also have a lot of beliefs surrounding yelling that reinforce the behavior:
- That they will take us more seriously (the opposite is true, you are probably regularly telling them to speak to you calmly and respectfully; you are not modeling the behavior which makes you a hypocrite)
- That they will respect us more (again, the opposite is true…see reasoning above)
- That they will listen better (the opposite is usually true: either they respect you less and therefore don’t listen, they might think you are blowing off steam and therefore don’t take your yelling topic seriously, or you frighten them which causes their anxiety to spike and their brain processessing abilities to tank)
- That they are more likely to change (research shows that they are actually just more likely to lie to you, avoid you, and resent you)
Debunking the beliefs and educating ourselves on the facts about yelling is one step toward reducing the behavior. Taking time to understand why we act in certain ways can allow us to increase our awareness and become more mindful of our behaviors and triggers.