Why do we raise our voice and begin to yell at people when we argue? Are you the type of person that automatically increases your voice so that you can create a situation in which you become the dominant speaker? If so you may be damaging your ability to be a better communicator and secure cooperation.

People telegraph their needs and feelings, whether they are aware of it or not. Probably over half of the meaning that others attach to our spoken message comes, not from the words themselves, but from the tone of voice.

Yelling happens when we hit our thumb with a hammer, when we are frightened, or when we are excited. Although more frequently, yelling is a sign of aggression. Raising our voice creates stress and tension that often escalates into an argument. We think of a bully as a person that yells or shouts at others to dominate their actions. The louder the voice, the higher the intensity of anger that is created, which can quickly lead to physical confrontations.

The feeling conveyed in our voice makes more impact and is remembered longer than the words actually spoken. That’s why we can’t always recall the exact words spoken, but clearly remember how we felt. The tone (its pitch, volume and clarity) all combine to give a listener clues about the way the message needs to be interpreted, conveying our mood and meaning of our statement.

We have to be careful not to assume that just because a person yells, that we are interpreting that signal correctly. We must look at the whole cluster of signals to see if they support our reading of that person. For instance, a person who shouts may be hard of hearing or are in a noisy environment

Yelling or raising our voice can be a method used to control the situation and dominate another person. We get loud to force the other person into submission and listen to what we have to say. This in turns tells them to comply with what we want or there will be punishing consequences.

However listening rarely occurs during a submissive state. Rather the ‘listener’ is waiting for the speaker to pause, in order to lash out with a rebuttal to defend against this verbal attack.

For many, shouting justifies the use of force, as they respond to a verbal assault with physical force in an attempt to preempt the threatening behavior by another person. Therefore, it is important that we regulate our voice to a volume or tone that does not imply aggressive behaviors or dominance over the other person.

Angry friends photo available from Shutterstock