Stop Screaming


This is the 40th in a collection of newspaper ads written by Harry Gray, then CEO of United Technologies, that appeared in the Wall Street Journal from the late 1970s through the early 1980s. Here is the text from that ad.

Sometimes it seems a rise in decibels is in direct disproportion to the importance of the message.
Phrases like, 
“We want you to head our Chicago office;”
“Would you accept the ambassadorship to France?”
“Chill the wine, I’ll be right over;”
are spoken in warm, quiet tones.
Where is my package?”
“I told you I didn’t want any mayonnaise;”
“You locked the keys in the car?”
are shrieked at top volume, in the glass shattering range.
Screaming is an unnecessary response; 
and when the shouting is over,
the cold facts of reality are still quietly sitting there.

Although I consider myself a very calm individual, and I don’t think I’ve ever raised my voice when speaking with my wife or children, I must admit there are times I do get angry.

And I think every time it has happened, it has involved dealing with a customer service rep on the phone. For whatever reason, if the phone call was not going the way I thought it should have been, I turned into a different person.

I knew I was being obnoxious, condescending, and rude, but I couldn’t help myself. I would even try to prepare for this by telling myself before the phone call to say calm, but I couldn’t control myself.

I think I’ve gotten better over the years, and such outbreaks, fortunately, are now few and far between. In fact, I just got off the phone with an insurance company, and while there was the potential it could have gotten antagonistic, it was actually a pleasant conversation (perhaps the fact that the phone call worked out the way I thought it should had something to do with it).

I guess I’ll chalk it up to maturity and the realization that screaming, as Harry Gray points out, doesn’t solve the problem, and usually makes it worse.

So if you are looking for a New Year’s resolution, “Stop Screaming”, seems like a good one.

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