Don’t Raise Your Voice, Improve Your Argument
Today we’re going to play a little game of “truth or dare,” but with a little twist: we’re going to make it “truth THEN dare.” For the “truth” portion I’m going to ask a few questions and you have to answer them (to yourself, of course) being completely honest. Then we’ll do “dare” and let’s see if we can change the answers we gave in the “truth” part…
Do you yell a lot? Now I don’t mean in the “I’m-Portuguese-so-I always-speak-so-loudly-you’d-think-I-wear-headphones-24/7” kind of way (shout out to my beloved familia!). I mean, when you have a fight with your significant other/mom/coworker/kids, does the volume in the room escalate quickly? Do you find yourself yelling the same things OVER AND OVER again because the other person seemed to have ignored you the last time?
When we are exposed to the same behavior repeatedly (such as excessive yelling) we tend to react in one of two ways:
1. We have an emotional response, like yelling louder or crying
2. We learn to ignore it
So when you’re flipping out on your kid for the fifth time this week for not cleaning their room, chances are, they didn’t get past the third word before they tuned you out.
This leads to misunderstandings and misinterpretations of what may have been said, and therefore causes these situations to escalate.
Next time you’re having a debate with someone
(read: WHY THE HELL HASN’T THE SHIRT I WORE FOR CHRISTMAS BEEN WASHED YET WHEN YOU’VE WASHED ALL THE OTHER CLOTHES EVERY WEEK SINCE THEN??????”) try changing your delivery. If you’re the one broaching a sensitive or controversial topic, I suggest preparing yourself. Practice what you’ll say, and more importantly, how you’ll say it. If you’re on the other end and you’re the one being confronted, by all means defend yourself, just try and do it as calmly as possible. You’re more likely to make your point if you do so firmly but quietly. One of two things is likely to happen:
1. the person who would act emotionally will probably take a step back and evaluate the situation from a calmer perspective
2. the person who normally ignores you will pay attention because they’re used to hearing the yelling and not a calm tone
Either way, you’re going to shock the crap out of them, and the situation will probably come closer to a conclusion much faster.
So I challenge you to try keeping calm and working on expressing your opinions and feelings clearly.
So instead of:
“OMG HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO FREAKING TELL YOU MY BRAS DON’T GO IN THE DRYER?!?!?!?!?”
“Sweetie, my bras can’t go in the dryer because the wires will warp and the elastic will break. Since they cost as much as this month’s car payment, it’s best not to put them in the dryer, don’t you think?”
and instead of:
“WHAT THE HELL, KID? IF I’VE SAID IT ONCE, I’VE SAID IT A MILLION TIMES. DON’T LEAVE YOUR DAMN WRAPPERS ALL OVER THE FLOOR, THAT’S DISGUSTING!!!”
maybe go with:
“Honey, please throw your McDonald’s wrappers in the garbage. Unless you want to share your room with the little critters you’re eventually going to attract. Contrary to what Disney wants you to believe, the real ones don’t wear little clothes, sing and sew dresses.”
Because when you improve your ability to communicate your point calmly, raising our voice no longer becomes necessary.
Challenge accepted? Good. Let me know how it goes!!