Defusing the Situation when someone is yelling
9:7:20 2024-03-26 639

1- Distance yourself from the other person. If possible, step away from the situation so you can cool off and recollect your thoughts. Tell the other person that their yelling is overwhelming and that you would like to speak at a later time. This gives both of you some space so the ensuing conversation is less likely to erupt into a fight.

  • If your partner yells at you, licensed psychologist Liana Georgoulis says the best thing to do is to “take some space from [them] for a minimum of 30 minutes.”

2- Initiate a conversation about their behavior. Once you’re ready to speak to the other person, tell them how their yelling makes you feel. Did you feel overwhelmed, scared, or confused during the moment? Be honest and include any details you noticed about their behavior, especially if they were unwilling to calm down.

  • For example, if your partner yells at you in public, you could tell them that you felt threatened or overwhelmed and that passersby were looking at you with pity.
  • If your boss yells at you, you might say that you felt vulnerable and uneasy when they raised their voice, and that it’s more difficult to focus on work when you feel defensive.


3- Request that yelling not continue. If you share how the yelling negatively affects you, then it’s reasonable to request that it doesn’t happen again. You might say something like “I can't concentrate when you’re yelling at me, and I care about what you have to say to me. Would you be willing to talk to me in a speaking tone, like the one we are both using now?”

  • Even if it seems obvious that a gentle speaking voice is preferable to yelling, be specific when making your request.
  • If you think the yeller is extra sensitive or will take your request personally, buffer your conversation with some positive observations as well. Think about the things that this person brings to the table in other moments and mention how much you appreciate them.

4- Speak in a softer voice. Speaking in a measured, soft tone is a great way to alter the mood of the conversation. The contrast in your voice may encourage the other person to sound like you, plus they’ll have to try harder to hear you. This can shift their focus from anger and intensity to concentration on what you’re saying.

5- Decide if you want to make amends. Now that you have taken steps to defuse the situation, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to reconcile or simply walk away. When making a decision, take into account your relationship with the yeller, when you are likely to see them next, and how much closure you typically need to move past an uncomfortable situation.

  • If the yeller is someone you can't or don't want to cut ties with, bring yourself to make amends by remembering where the yeller is coming from.
  • If you choose to walk out, keep in mind that you may be in for a tense encounter the next time you see the yeller.


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