• Tim Herrera

People don’t listen when you shout at them. Be a persuader and not a bulldozer.

It seems showing good manners and treating people politely are not in vogue these days. That’s especially true in communications situations. The popularity of cable news programs and sports talk shows with panels of talking heads shouting at each other proves too many people are more interested in being bulldozers than persuaders. And this raises the question: Do people listen when you shout at them? The short answer: No.

Aesop once said, “Persuasion is often more effectual than force.”

Have you ever watched a cable news show, heard someone shout over someone they disagree with and then said to yourself?... “Well, I am now convinced by the volume of your argument. I have completely changed my mind!”

Marriage and Family Therapist Robert C. Jameson writes: “Many people hold an erroneous belief: If I yell at you, then you will hear me…. In fact, most people shut down and stop listening when they are being yelled at.”

There’s a difference between hearing and listening. It matters how we communicate with people and it’s always best to practice good communication manners anywhere and anytime. Personal communications thrive on connections built through relationships. Calm and clear communications also serve as foundations for good business communications. Sadly, it’s not always there.

So much of our communication dysfunction traces back to when we were kids, and when our parents were kids, and before that. Years of research shows yelling doesn’t work. Science Daily published a study in 2012 - Emotion in voices helps capture listener's attention, but in the long run the words are not remembered as accurately. During the study, participants listened to words spoken in either a neutral or sad tone of voice. Researchers found people remembered and responded more positively to words spoken in a neutral tone compared to words spoken in a sad tone. No surprise, right?

When you’re communicating with someone, whether it’s with a family member, friend, co-worker or client, you need to be calm, clear, honest, and polite. You also must “read” the other person to understand the situation. So many of these types of skills come from experience and not textbooks, however. But practice makes perfect, or at least close to it.

Writer Lyndsay Ramsey, in a blog titled “Business Etiquette – Deal Maker or Deal Breaker?” says polish and professionalism go a long way toward attracting and dealing with people. She writes “When you are trying to make connections and build relationships, manners make the difference.” She also says, “adding polish will always build profits.”

To convince someone, or sell your work, you cannot put too much emphasis on how you present yourself and how you treat others. In communications, we should act as polite and polished communicators. Good communication is built on good relationships. Shouting undermines good communications.

(Tim Herrera is the author of Media Training: A Guide to Giving Great Interviews and several other books on communications.)

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