Have you ever been in an argument where the other person's anger escalated to screaming? Have you ever engaged with said anger and it turned into an all-out – can't really hear what you're saying – I must scream louder to out-scream you – verbal fight? Usually, these arguments end in slamming of doors, hurt feelings, and an ugly sense of nothing really was accomplished. Thankfully, I don't have those arguments now that I'm married to someone who understands good communication skills. But, I did overhear an argument between my backyard neighbors that was so loud and profanity filled, that I had to call security. Apparently, the husband was furious over some financial decisions made by his wife. Gee, couples fighting over money – who knew? His anger-sack was absolutely full. (I use an anger-sack as an analogy in my conflict resolution workshops to show that when you are full of anger or frustration, it is not the time to discuss solutions.) This man was swearing, screaming, name-calling, and repeating it for well over 45 minutes.
The intensity didn't surprise me, as I have heard this couple argue on past occasions. What surprised me was when I went outside to see what was going on, I saw this man screaming…into a phone!!! Wow – this actually shocked me that his wife would stay on the phone listening to the verbal abuse.
I don't know these people personally, don't know their names, and don’t know their stories. But I do know that each and every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect no matter how angry, upset or hurt you are. Here's what I believe about communicating around conflict:
- You deserve to be talked to with respect; name-calling, screaming and swearing at someone is not healthy
- If someone is screaming, they are not in a position to hear solutions – they need to vent
- Have a limit to how long you will be willing to be on the receiving end of such harsh words delivered in such a way. Is it 10 minutes? Is it 10 days? There is a time where venting has to end, and solutions are presented.
- Stay calm, even though it's tempting to match and mirror their intensity. Stay strong with assertive statements (see below)
- Safety is foremost. If you feel you are in physical danger in anyway, get the help you need now.
These tools are for when an argument erupts. But manifesting change in relationships starts with conversations when everyone is calm. Wait for a little time after an argument, and then approach that person with something like: "What could we do different so we can talk about our issues without sceaming at each other?"
The most important part of this whole blog is for you to know that you deserve to be treated with respect. It's okay to let people know what's okay and what's not okay when it comes to communicating. You also have the right to remove yourself from conversations, and even from relationships altogether. You are worth it.
From your grateful to not be screamed at motivational speaker and conflict resolution expert, Marilyn Sherman, CSP