“I said it to him very clear, I went and shouted in his ear.”
Through The Looking Glass
We do training but you know that, we hope; in training, we deal in the theoretical world but we still live in the real one. On our training programmes we share many theories of management and communication, some of which work, some of which may not. However, by having a full tool-box of ideas and by cherry picking and choosing the moment, you can normally find the right way to manage and communicate in 90% of situations using what you have learned. We pride ourselves on this!
One thing we never teach people on our programmes is how to shout at people (I realise other training companies may exists that offer this as an option but I’ve never heard of them. See what I did there?). So, why do managers still think that shouting at people works?
This shouting phenomenon is demonstrated in many different ways throughout the world, from Football Managers to parents in supermarkets (golden rule: if you can, DON’T ever take your kid to supermarkets, kids do not like them and, indeed, why should they?) altercations in car parks and, well, on and on.
Shouting works if you are a few hundred yards away from somebody and you want to communicate with them, if somebody is in imminent danger…but in management terms it works, well…never…
(Okay, maybe if you are telling people to get out of the building because it’s on fire it might. Though even then, a calm approach is suggested, even on those clever posters on the walls that none of us have ever read.)
When we shout, we show people certain things:
- We have lost control. We are panicking and the stress has got to us. We have lost it and all respect, if any, we ever had.
- We don’t trust you. Thus, we are shouting at you like you are a badly behaved dog.
- We are treating you like badly behaved children when, in reality, we are a poorly performing parent.
- We will only do this once. There’s a great line we have heard, “Dictators look good until the final minutes” and maybe that’s what shouting is telling you your style is.
Good people don’t respond to shouting… well, they do, but they don’t respond in the way that others might do, they do not respond positively; they will simply ignore you and/or leave. Good people don’t need to be shouted at, bad people do.
And there are no bad people, just bad bosses. (Trainer cliché!!)
Can this be true? (It’s a cliché, of course it’s true. That’s why it’s a cliché. That may b another trainer cliché. I hope you’re counting… )
Well, yes. (Told you. Enough rhetorical questions.)
Are there ANY times when shouting actually gets the outcome you want?
Shouting to/at a dog, shouting to avoid danger and shouting for help, yes. But none of these are really good management practices long term (or even short term); they only show you have got something wrong. Indeed, shouting isn’t a good life practice long term (and it hurts your throat short term). Raising your voice has occasional uses but seldom does shouting have any useful impact. And it certainly does not breed good behaviour in others.
(Indeed, even in the canine world, the practices of a certain Barbara Woodhouse have now been shown to be mostly useless. Even dogs don’t really respond to being shouted at, well, not in a good behavioural way. And if it doesn’t work on dogs…)
Which makes us think: what good is shouting?
“Even dogs don’t really respond to being shouted at, well, not in a good behavioural way.”
It isn’t. It can make us feel good, short term, it can show people that we are annoyed but in pure management terms it just shows we are not coping and shouldn’t, probably, be a manager. Harsh but fair.
(And if you really want a child to listen, don’t shout, whisper instead, they always manage to hear that.)
Think of how you responded when being shouted at and the truth of this will probably hit you. And it is the truth.
Just don’t shout it from the tree-tops…