Yelling: Not the Panacea We Thought

Bullet Proof Consulting


You know I don’t have children; I have dogs. And as a long-time reader, you also know this past February, hubby and I welcomed dog number six into our family.

Initially, I did a lot of loud-voiced NOs at the little puppy. (Notice how I downplayed the term yelling to the gentler ‘loud-voiced’?) And since I am not usually a person who yells or even raises her voice (except to call, dinner’s on), I began thinking about the why behind our yelling.

There is a huge parallel between my yelling at my puppies, parents yelling at their kids, managers yelling at their subordinates, and neighbours yelling at neighbours.

We yell out of Fear

Fear that, at the least, they will hurt themselves and, at worst, kill themselves. Fear that whatever might result from their actions would be potentially embarrassing to us. Or expensive for us to fix. Fear that if we don’t protect them, something terrible will happen. Fear for their lives and our sanity. That they will overlook or forget something. Fear that they will get more than they deserve or won’t rise to our minimum standards.

The truth is OUR fears paralyze us, provoke us into doing things entirely out of character, and haunt the person or thing for whom we are afraid – forever.

Now contrast that with how Google Maps or our GPS works.

When we ignore the precise instructions of veering left or right or turning one way or the other, Google Maps never yells at us. We never hear the words, ‘hey moron, that was a bone head move. You missed the turn again.’

In a calm voice, totally devoid of insult and recrimination, our GPs directs us to “make a legal U-turn” as soon as it was safe to do so. Our GPS stays with us with a calm, reassuring voice until we eventually reach our destination. And when we proceed to head back home, our GPS never tells us to pay more attention and not make any dumb turns.

The result is – we have no FEAR

Google Maps has no ego. She is not interested in being ‘right’ or showing us how ‘wrong’ we are. He does not lose his temper when we repeatedly make mistakes. Google maps do not care whether we make ‘new’ mistakes or the same ones.

She simply tells us where to go from wherever our meanderings take us. All she cares about is getting us where we want to go. And she is very good at this.

I wonder what would happen if we adjusted our response to our puppies, kids, spouses, neighbours and even our direct reports to be more in line with our GPS?

Maybe we could learn a lesson from our GPS

Drop all irritation at the dumb mistakes “they” make and simply focus on helping them take the next step from where they are. And if they screw up, help them rectify their error.

I believe we will be pleasantly surprised at how much better we become as human beings, as parents, neighbours, and even leaders and how much more our team accomplishes.

I’ll even go out on a limb and say, all of our personal relationships will significantly improve.
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