When is it Okay to Yell or Speak Harshly
June 16, 2009 · Posted in Marriage, Mental Health, Parenting · Permalink

We would like to introduce Lisa Merlo-Booth and her blog Straight Talk on Relationships.  We have studied with Lisa as part of our training with Terry Real at The Relational Life Institute. Lisa is a therapist and life coach. This post is important food for thought.


Relationships and Anger: When is it Okay to Yell or Speak  Harshly?

by Lisa Merlo-Booth

At times I’m taken aback by how many people — men and women alike — believe that it’s okay to speak harshly or yell at others in anger.  I’ve even had clients call me “one of those frickin’ feminists” when I stated it wasn’t okay to swear at their wives.  Sadly, they are not alone in this belief.

Many men and women believe that yelling, swearing and/or speaking severely to their child, co-worker, lover or spouse is a part of relationships.  They believe that harsh speaking is warranted at times and often understandable.

While they justify their callousness, the people caught in their cross-fire cringe.

The bottom line is:  the only time speaking harshly is warranted, is for safety (such as stopping a child from running into the street) or protection from physical abuse.  Otherwise, it is not okay to yell, swear, belittle or speak unkindly to others.  Period.

You can be angry, speak with a firm, but not raised voice, tell a person you are angry, set a limit and/or make a request.  You are OFF if you yell or are disrespectful in any way.  This is true regardless of what the other person has done or is doing.  Their behavior does not give you the green light to be harsh or verbally abusive (such as yelling, swearing at, name calling or belittling someone).  Stop looking for times when it’s okay to speak harshly and instead be determined to give — and take — nothing less than respect.

CHALLENGE:  If you continue to snap at others, yell in anger or justify your harshness because of the behaviors of others—STOP IT.  There is no justification.  Commit to taking disrespect and verbal abuse off the table in your relationships and notice what happens as a result.

Visit Lisa Merlo-Booth’s website at www.relationalcoaching.com

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  1. kcf
    June 16th, 2009 | 2:49 pm

    This is something I really struggle with when I’m very angry — yelling, cussing, the whole ugly 9 yards. Sometimes I even talk myself into saying, “Well, at least it’s authentic,” given that I never expressed anger well before I was a parent. But this piece is a good re-wake-up call that it’s time to dig in again and clean up my act — a process I have had to do repeatedly over the years of my parenting. Tough stuff, but a good reminder once again.

  2. June 16th, 2009 | 6:37 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with the author of this. But if saying “STOP IT” to myself really did the trick, the problem would be resolved! Unfortunately, learning how to control my temper and my mouth is apparently a life’s work.

  3. Tina
    June 24th, 2009 | 7:23 pm

    Wow-this seems impossible. I agree with Bethany, this is a life’s work! It is a great goal though and I am more clear that it is not really ok to yell and scream. I’ll give myself time outs! Tina

  4. Shezka
    September 24th, 2009 | 12:49 am

    I wish I could tell this to my dad. He has no control over his anger at all. Constantly I’m subjected to him yelling at me for something he told me to do. Whenever I answer a question he asks me I end up with him accusing me of talking back.

  5. September 24th, 2009 | 7:15 pm

    Dear Shezka,
    I hope you have someone you can talk to about this and to help you speak up for yourself in the family.
    Your comment just hit home what it is like to be on the receiving end of constant yelling. Thank you for commenting on the post.

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