Is Yelling in a Meeting Productive?

A long long time ago in a place far far away…I’m in a meeting. There is a crucial issue that has been exposed in a highly visible project that I am a part of. What is going through my head you ask? I’m not thinking about the project or how I might contribute a solution to the issues at hand, I’m seriously contemplating walking out of the meeting. Why you ask? Because I am listening to the manager loudly yell accusations at others as he repeatedly slams his fist on the table. “I’m tired of this $%#&, this needs to get solved NOW!”

So I, like many others present, avert my attention elsewhere attempting to ignore this overly emotional and unprofessional display of frustration. Just based on this natural reaction that I had yelling has already proven to be counterproductive. I’m not coming up with brilliant solutions on “how to solve the problem now” I’m zoning out and wondering how this individual can possibly think his display is appropriate. Perhaps he is under the impression that to be heard one must behave this way. I think he is sadly mistaken. I strongly believe that an intelligent person is able to effectively communicate and inspire others by encouraging communication in a respectful manner.

Solving problems and getting things done requires motivation. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I suspect that it is a rare individual that would list “being yelled at” as a strong motivator. In the situation that I describe here the team became motivated when a clear project plan and team structure was laid out by another meeting attendee. The yelling had absolutely no positive effect on the outcome of the meeting and really only served as a waste of time for everyone else.

So, if my opinion isn’t already obvious, yelling is absolutely unproductive in meetings. It is unprofessional, demotivating, and in many cases abusive. We, as humans, are simply not wired to respond positively to being yelled at. If you find yourself in this type of meeting I recommend avoiding responding with the same ridiculous behavior. If the situation is extreme you should have the courage to stand up and remove yourself from the situation. It is possible to get reprimanded for doing so, but I personally would rather take the chance and potentially gain respect for standing up for myself tactfully.