Do you have a tendency to raise your voice or yell at work when something goes wrong? According to several studies, you’re really not helping matters. I just came across this fascinating article in the Wall Street Journal which explains why yelling is an ineffective tool, with research showing that it can impair employees’ ability to remember things and follow instructions. Admit it—it’s pretty hard to concentrate when your boss is screaming at you.
Interestingly, sending an angry email or silently fuming at a co-worker is also unproductive. The article mentions an instance in which an editor fired off an email berating a writer for not doing their job, only to find herself in the hot seat when the writer called to complain to the higher-ups; apparently they did not appreciate having forceful complaints in writing.
So what’s the best way to resolve workplace conflicts while bringing civility back to the workplace? Experts suggest calmly verbalizing your complaint in short sentences that begin with “I.” Say, “I understand where you were coming from, but I don’t agree that the situation was handled properly.”
You should also wait 24 hours before responding, which will likely remove some of the sting. The article also suggests using a soft voice when raising a complaint, as it tends to encourage the other person to lower their volume. Instead of focusing on issuing blame, suggest solutions or ways mistakes can be avoided in the future.
And if you are the person being yelled at, try not to react. It will throw the screamer off guard and hopefully force them to retreat. Issue a calm response and don’t rise to the bait. The office is no place for screaming matches.