Tone Down
Off The Wall, August 05
, 2011

You may remember my story titled Soft Talk. It dealt with a survey I conducted about “Speak softly and carry a big stick,” a statement made by Teddy Roosevelt.

One of the people who responded, Lily Arbagale, from Pona, IL, made a point that left an impression with me. She said, “If something is wrong and you feel it’s your business to let it be known that you think it’s wrong, you don’t need to yell, but you do need to be confident and self assured – state what you feel and mean it…stick by what you think and don’t be swayed by others.”

I can’t stress enough that yelling accomplishes nothing – plain and simple. It’s different when you are in PNC Park and you are trying to communicate with a couple two rows up. That place is so noisy that if you don’t have some kind of blow horn to let others know what you are conveying, maybe instead of yelling, write down the message and pass it up to them.

Yelling has never been a mode of communication in my books. I don’t think God intended us to scream at others, only to use these outbursts to let others know danger is in their midst.

Many people don’t realize that yelling is actually a sin whereby you are walking away from God. To raise one’s voice is not to His liking, and shouldn’t be directed to anybody else as well.

I recently received a blessing by being invited to go to Pittsburgh and watch the Pittsburgh Pirates play the Baltimore Orioles. Now, I can’t imagine people rooting for their favorite team in a whisper. It’s a common practice to yell for your team, regardless if it’s a city team, the Wildcats or the Derry Ukes, for example.

I had a front row seat overlooking literally 1000’s of people all speaking the same language in tones of excitement or disappointment. There was one group chanting something I couldn’t make out, but I knew it was to encourage the team. They worked very hard trying over and over again. Unfortunately the team failed them. That falls under the category of “It happens.”

One woman behind me made her feelings known during every play. I would like to think she saved all her energy for this ball game, because she screamed at players, the team and hits made. Maybe that is what baseball is all about – not just hitting a ball and running the bases, but having spectators scream at high-paid players as they attempt to do their thing.

After telling a friend of mine I had visited the Park, he said, “How was the hot dog?” When I told him I didn’t have one, he raised his voice and exclaimed, “What do you mean you didn’t buy one? That is what you are supposed to do when you visit places like that!” Sorry, I guess I missed that course in college – “Park Dogs Basics 101.”

Have you ever visited a large hall, church, or meeting room where a speaker is attempting to give a speech? No sooner does he start talking, but someone pipes up in the audience – “Can’t hear you.” Now, my question is, “Is that appropriate to yell from one’s seat, or would it have been better to get up and proceed to the stage and present the message in a quieter tone. Personally, I think the yelling from the seat is rude and disruptive. If the speaker knew he wouldn’t be heard from the getgo, I’m sure he would have made preparations to make sure he can be heard from the front row all the way back to the last seat and out the door, as far as that goes.

I know several folks whom have hearing aids. Many times they tell me to speak up. There is a difference between doing that and yelling. Asking the individual if the tone of voice is loud enough may be a proper approach.

One thing I’ve always hated is to have people yelling at me as a form of communication. “Why are you here so early?” Don’t you know you don’t pull out flowers that way!” “Tuck in your shirt!” These three examples can be handled without yelling demands and commands. As Lily said, “State what you feel and mean it.”

Now, again, I understand many seniors are not feeling well in their golden years. As a result they have a tendency to yell at their loved ones. But here, too, also, if you realize how aggravating you have become and that others really don’t appreciate your behavior, wouldn’t it behoove you to change your course of action?

I really don’t think I am the only one who hates to be yelled at. Maybe those who do it can get a grip on their behavioral patterns and make friends rather than create enemies. Please don’t have the attitude that “I can yell if I want to,” because, first of all, that is immature thinking, and second, it is not welcome in our society.

Thanks Lily for passing along this thought of not yelling. I hope others will take it to heart.


- Paul J. Volkmann
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