The worst kind of noise pollution is yelling! Yelling causes damage, irreparable damage, to the environment, to our relationships, to our psyches and nervous systems, and to our mental and physical health. We need to stop raising our voices, except for happy cries of “Mazal Tov!”

  1. Listen, really listen, when someone isPeople raise their voices when they don’t feel heard speaking to you. Most of the time, people raise their voices when they don’t feel heard. Subconsciously, they feel that by speaking louder they will be listened to. Teachers scream at students, mothers at children, siblings at their brothers or sisters, and customers at customer-service representatives when they don’t feel that their requests are being heard. If you listen when people speak to you, there is less chance that they will feel the need to yell.
  2. “As water reflects the face to the face, so is one man’s heart reflected in another’s.” (Proverbs 27:19) If someone starts yelling at you, speak more softly. Unconsciously, they will reflect your actions and lower the volume as well.
  3. “The words of the wise are heard when spoken softly.” (Ecclesiastes 9:17) The softer you speak, the more people will pay attention in order to hear what you’re saying. Speak clearly, but gently.
  4. People yell when they’re frustrated. When you feel the urge to yell, articulate to yourself what it is that is frustrating you and then explain it. If someone is yelling at you, try to pinpoint what is bothering them and reflect it back to them. If you say, “I see you’re frustrated because it’s a long wait, and I realize that waiting is a pain,” they’re likely to feel understood and calm down.
  5. There is a lot of noise all around us—construction, music, people on their cell phones, television screens everywhere and the ubiquitous hum of technology. Try and quiet your environment as much as possible so that if someone wants to talk with you, he or she doesn’t have to compete with the background noise.
  6. Strong emotion causes us to yell, even positive strong emotion. We can transform some of the energy into physical expression—jump up and down, smile broadly, pace. If you channel some of the emotional energy into something physical but harmless, you can overcome the need to yell. People at sporting events are a good example; they often accompany their cheers or boos with physical movement.
  7. Never yell at someone who won’t “hear” you. Remind yourself that often the person you’re yelling at won’t listen to you anyway, either because your yelling doesn’t make an impression on them (the stranger on the bus) or because they have now been petrified into inaction (the toddler you have just terrified).
  8. Communicate in writing. While it is stillYelling is the sign of someone who has lost control possible to “yell” in writing, it doesn’t cause the same reaction as screaming so if there’s someone with whom verbal communication is uncomfortable, loud or violent, revert to a letter, SMS or email.

Yelling is never the sign of a refined person; it’s the sign of someone who has lost control and is often accompanied by abusive language. The Torah has many negative things to say about someone who loses his temper, such as: “His wisdom departs from him” (Pesachim 66b), and “He is considered as if he worships idols” (Maimonides, Hilchot Deios 2:7). When people lose their temper, they are being possessed by their evil inclination. We want to maintain our Divine image and be seen as refined people—not turn into a screaming banshee. This, of course, takes practice. But the more you overcome your desire to yell—and the less you tolerate being yelled at—the more harmonious your life and, by extension, your world will become.