I like this photo..."I don't know what we're yelling about!!"
On one hand, some people may yell out of frustration or anger--because they feel terribly wronged or even abused by someone else (i.e. they feel a "righteous anger").
On the other hand, others may yell because they are mentally unstable or just can't handle their sh*t (i.e. "they are losing it").
Some may yell like in martial arts training to scare the other person and get them to back off. I remember someone telling me back in NYC that if you're about to be attacked, start to talk to yourself, act crazy, foam at the mouth, and yell...this way maybe they will leave you alone (i.e. "they'll look for an easier target").
While some studies are saying that yelling is becoming less of a problem, the sheer number of articles on this topic tell a different story. From yelling at your children to yelling at your employees, the yelling phenomenon is alive and well.
Parents are yelling more, maybe to avoid spanking, which is now more a social taboo. Studies show that 75% of parents scream at their kids about once a month--this includes shouting, cursing, calling them "lazy," "stupid," or otherwise belittling and blaming them. The problem is that yelling only makes the kids depressed, angrier, and creates more behavioral problems, not less.
In this way, shouting at children is no different than physically abusing them (e.g. hitting, pushing, etc.)
Similarly, when superiors or customers scream at employees, the workers feel they are in an out of control situation where they are powerless. There are numerous negative impacts that this has on them, including problems with memory, reduced creativity, worse performance, and higher turnover rates.
While some people may not resort to actual yelling in the workplace, they instead do "silent yelling--sending flaming emails, making faces or otherwise denigrating employees or simply marginalizing them. In other words, they don't yell, but rather are silent and deadly, nonetheless.
Businessweek quotes Rahm Emanuel about how he motivates people, "Sometimes--I don't want to say scream at them--but you have to be...forceful."
Rather than yell or scream, the common advice is to bring it down--way down--using measures from taking a deep breath to meditating, counting to ten or waiting 24 hours before responding, describing how you feel to focusing on problem-solving.
The key is to calm down, act with your brains not your brawn, and figure out how to get to the root cause of the problem and solve it.
People may raise their voice to vent or make a point, in the heat of the moment, or if they are being personally attacked, but in general, as it says in Ethics of Our Fathers, "Who is strong? One who overpowers his inclinations." ;-)
(Source Photo: here with attribution to Soukup)