If you’re a parent, you just got a nervous tic when you read that. That’s because you’re very familiar with the childhood pattern of screaming.
For the uninitiated, screaming is due to sub-humanoid offspring not yet knowing how to use their oratory faculties to communicate specific needs. As a result, a scream could mean many things.
To an infant, it most likely means:
I’m really hungry.
I just crapped my pants.
To a toddler, it probably means:
Help me, help me, dear Jesus, I have a tooth puncturing my gums.
The corner of the desk just intercepted my temple at a high velocity.
Of course, to a four-year-old, a scream could mean:
You sick twisted sibling of mine, I want my toy back right now. If I had the ability to chew your hand off, I would. And I’m at least going to try.
I’m petrified that a giant version of Elmo is under my bed and has negotiated with Lucifer to digest my face.
Any good mother can interpret the nuances hidden in these primal cries with amazing precision. (Fathers, on the other hand, are not so adept). Likewise, mothers quickly instruct their offspring to “use [their] words” with amazing efficiency (so as not to go completely insane themselves. It’s really more like a survival instinct than a cherished virtue of instructive passion).
While these screaming anecdotes are all well and good for sentient quadrupeds and bipeds under 48″ tall, they can also apply to the more mature forms of humanity. Namely, adults. Though we might not be terrified of Elmo (although I certainly understand if you are), we do tend to do our own fair share of “screaming.”
Ours might not be the shrieking kind, but that of another, more grown-up sort, but no less childish. When we fail to properly communicate what we’re feeling or thinking, we resort to adult-screaming: more commonly known as complaining.
Here are three tips to help you “use your words” instead of expecting others to be able to interpret your shrieks.
Take A Deep Breath
Before going to anyone with your issue, whether it be your spouse, friend, boss or associate, give yourself some cool-down time to process what you’re experiencing. Typically, when we’re confronted with volatile or tumultuous situations, we have a natural tendency to respond emotionally on par with the circumstances. Doing so only feeds the drama instead of revealing the insightful answers we need to see the problem resolved. Many times with my own staff, I make them wait a mandatory period of time before coming to me with any problem; most times, they find creative ways to solve their situation all by themselves, and realize their own would-have-been responses as reactionary instead of proactive. This saves them and me time, energy and drama.
Me Or Them?
The moment an issue arises in any relationship in which you feel lead to complain about the other person, examine your own self to see if the burden of proof for your supposed reaction lies on you instead of the other person. Many times, if we’re honest, we’ll notice that it’s our own self that needs to be addressed, and that our reactionary response is only evidence to this fact. Even if the other person is in the wrong, approaching them with this kind of humble, sincere attitude will go a long way to rectifying even the most abrasive scenarios.
Probably the most helpful thing in the midst of any issue is to step back and examine the situation from a “higher altitude.” This requires that you master the first point above. Once tempers have cooled down, methodically examining all angles of a problem allows us to judge what kind of a response we need to have. I can safely say that 99% of my problems in life are First World problems, in that even my biggest inconveniences are someone else’s extravagant blessings in some other part of the world. Similarly, in terms of interpersonal contexts, most arguments (if not all) are ever worth the value of the person or the relationship. Put “thing issues” in a global context, and put “people issues” in a “who will really care about this in 100 years?” context.
What have some of your latest “screams” been about lately? (Yes, seeing a human-size version of Elmo counts).