When in a discussion that turns less than cordial, and voices are getting louder with each exchange, it’s tempting and natural to think that “If I can just yell a little louder than he or she yells, I’ll be heard and my point will be made (and accepted”).
First, the other person probably won’t hear you any clearer than you are hearing them. And, even if they do, they’re not listening.
Terri Levine, author of Work Yourself Happy says, “Speak softly. If you really want to be heard, lower your voice.”
Very true. When the shouting is escalating, step back. Calm yourself. Speak softly. This works. When doing this you’ve changed the Matrix, so to speak. The other person will pause to hear what you have to say. The attitudes of both of you will become more relaxed.
Now you can make your point and be heard. And, the other person will, most likely, then lower their voice, and you can hear them. An instant win…for both of you.
One key is first becoming conscious of the fact that emotion and shouting has taken over.
How do you do when it comes to recognizing this? Any thoughts?
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I have learned to stay solution focussed when a person is in an outburst. If there is one thing I’ve learned in life, is that solutions are in fact, what we all want. (not necessarily for someone else to solve, but just that it be solved) When I come from a solution mindset, I find it easy not to raise my voice, nor to be drawn into a yellers abrasive words. My solution focused listening is not usually on an audible level, but on a heart level. Some of the questions that process through my heart and past their rage filled words are, “What is really wrong here? What does he/she, really want or need from me? What can I say, to let them know that I understand? etc….”
Thank you for your daily posts. 🙂
I find myself doing this without even thinking about it and it works really well. Thanks for posting!
I’m laughing right now at the idea “if I can just yell a little louder….” It’s ridiculous when you THINK about it. Problem is, when I’m emotionally involved in a conversation, I don’t always think! Especially when it’s a conversation with my kids. I was fortunate to learn this lesson many, many years ago from a very wise woman named Mom. She told me “the minute you raise your voice, they win!” I’ve never forgotten it and it has served me well.
Exactly, WHEN we think about it. We often don’t though, at the very time we need to. Which is why it’s suggested to rehearse those situations in advance. Even then, it still takes work to stay conscious at the time it happens. Meanwhile, sounds like you have a very wise Mom!!
I could have used this advice yesterday on a conference call. Good post!
Thank you, Ronnie. You’ll get em’ next time, my friend!
Very wise words, Amy. Thank you for sharing with us!
Love this post Bob! Back in the day I worked for a very successful investment firm, and the man who ran it was a good friends father. I always remember when he would give office talks about business goals or motivation for the whole team, he would always speak just a little quiter when he was going to make an important point about something…and the effect was 35 people all leaning forward physically and mentally to try and catch the meaning of what he was saying. I learned then (which aint always easy to remember) that although its counterintuitive, often becoming quiter will draw people’s attention and focus in to you in a way that raising your volume won’t. And same goes for diffusing escalating debates etc…the switching of gears (becoming quiter) refocuses and can disarm intensity. Love it, and thanks for the reminder!
Wow, thank you for sharing that, Sean. Even the way you described it I was drawn in to your boss’ message. I could picture him lowering his voice just a bit and every leaning forward. Great lesson!
Great post, Bob! Totally love the title and must get Levine’s book. The biggest thing for me is self control. If I get too heated, anything is bound to fly out and regrets come later… When I find my blood pressure and sensitivity rising, I quickly evaluate the situation and check my tone/voice volume. The slower and nicer I respond, under pressure, the better the outcome for a good resolution. Keep up the good work, my dear friend : )
Joel, that’s great. Always an advantage when something like this comes intuitively. It definitely does not come that way for me. Something I had to work on, and have to continue to work on.
Thank you, Chi Chi. I’ve actually never read her book but I hear it’s terrific. I did read that quote and it was attributed to her book, hence the link. And, yes, self-control is the key. And, it sounds as though you do a great job with it. Way to go!
Many years ago, I had a boss who was a master at this technique so I got the opportunity to watch it work so well, so many times.
He used it effectively in both face-to-face encounters and phone conversations.
Of course, the key to being able to use this technique is, as you so thoughtfully conclude, being self-aware.
Thank you, Dave. What great feedback. I always enjoy those stories. Thank you for sharing!
You’ve posted a message of universal applicability. and you’ve done it in few words (I love short blogposts!) –
Even in concert as a pianist, I have sometimes responded to ratllings, cellophane cricklings (you’d be surprised how someone unwrapping a piece of candy is amplified in an acoustically live space) and other assorted rustlings, by playing softer – It just works –
When you raise your voice, you lose. Peridod.
I know I don’t have to say “Keep Up the Good Work Bob!”
Wayne, thank you. I appreciate that greatly. Hey, I loved YOUR blog post today regarding music and children. Brilliant! http://bit.ly/hcYv3p