skip to Main Content
Never Wrestle With A Pig …

Never wrestle with a Pig …

Never wrestle with a pig! You both get dirty and the pig likes it…

These are bloody rude times right now, and many people find themselves struggling with how to respond.

Do they fight fire with fire or try, somehow, to take the moral high ground?

Do they, as Donald Trump does, seek out an echo chamber where you use social media to rant, blame, accuse and intimidate others by yelling Fake News, Fake News at anyone who has the temerity to disagree.

Or do they withdraw from engagement in any negative discourse or adopt a Michelle Obama mantra of when they go low, you go high.

All of this was going through my mind as I was listening to Ian Dale being interviewed this week by Lisa Shaw on BBC about his new book with the theme Shout less, Listen more.

Now Ian, the LBC broadcaster, is a marmite character to me. Sometimes I like him and other times he just winds me up. Some of his views are aligned to mine and some are polar opposite.  However, his theme got me thinking about how we really need to shout less/listen more.

There is undoubtedly a change occurring in the way we interact and communicate with each other. There is a schismatic shift in the world of manners, and the weapon of choice of those who want to yell, scream, get attention, destroy others, or hide behind a screen of anonymity is the world wide web. And wow … don’t some people just love it!

The consequential impact can be significant.

In my work as a coach to sports, business and politics figure, I see how easy it is for harmful behaviour to proliferate behind a screen. I’ve worked with several people who have been victims of it on social media. I often get personally slated, especially on my own politic feed and especially when I use my Irish name.

Someone once said to me that

social media is not the place for a proper conversation as too many people on it have mince for brains, and they feel they can act with impunity and anonymity while delivering verbal diarrhoea with the intent to pursue what I call F*CK negative campaigning.

Their ‘yelling’ is intended to frustrate, undermine, damage or kick others into long grass .

I have seen cases where one person has created a fake social media account just to spam someone else’s accounts with the most horrific and insulting statements.

I have worked with people who have been attacked and brutalised by others who do not even know them, just for mistakes or statements they have made.

I have seen people’s families being victimised in the most racist and sexist way. The brutality that some arm chair yellers think is ok to spew from behind a screen is simply unbelievable, and can make twitter the biggest sh*thole on the internet.

Yes, these are the extremes, but the majority of us, with our silent participation and nonchalant acceptance of it all, are just allowing our generation to sleep walk into an Age of Rudeness.

Scroll through the comments section on your news feed, and you’ll probably find some kind of mean-spirited debate going on.

Human beings, according to Charles Darwin, are supposed to be evolving into a higher being. However, given the growing trend of people losing civility, insanely yelling loudly, using virolic negativity, applying irreverence and being impatient with others, plus the use of more and more confrontational and aggressive language, it appears that a segment of the planet is devolving.

Yelling happens when we hit our thumb with a hammer (ouch!), when we are frightened, or when we are excited, or .. when we are right and they are wrong. But raising our voice creates stress and tension that often escalates into an argument.

We think of a bully as a person that yells or shouts at others to dominate the situation. The louder the voice, the more you drown out others which in turn leads to a higher intensity of anger that can quickly lead to physical confrontations.

People use yelling to dominate the dialogue, to force their opinion and agenda through. On social media, there are people yelling, shouting and ranting and people waiting to yell, shout rant. Between Twitter feuds and Facebook rants, rudeness has become a ‘new normal’, a new way of communicating. There is little room for tolerance, for reflection and objective debate. There is little room for questions such as “Why are the saying this?”; “Can I understand this more?”; “Why is this truly important?”; “Should I really get the last word here?”; “When a person is rude, is it about me or about her/him?”

Social media has contributed to an attitude of rudeness. People feel they have to share their opinions on everything, everywhere, at all times, even if backed up by scant knowledge. Belief based arguments abound.

Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured. Mark Twain

Time and time again in working with my clients, the issue of being right arises as being perhaps the most salient factor behind escalating and maintaining interpersonal conflict. This is most evident in leadership change and organisational health or couples therapy. The same issues apply in friendships, relationships at work, or in conflicts on social media.

We defend our position. We defend our tribe. We attack others personally by yelling out or undermining the position of others.

Take a moment. Ask yourself: Are you someone that frequently yells? Have you ever used yelling to rebuke, correct or reprimand another? Have you involved yourself in a twitter spat? Have you been unpleasant on social media, or have you ever found yourself uncontrollably yelling – even silently – at what someone else is saying or doing? If so, you are in good company, because a large percentage of our society continues to utilise yelling.

Many of us rant because of baggage we carry or untruths we believe to be true; biases we have or experiences that have shaded us. However if we were prepared to just release ourselves and unlearn tolear ???, life would be different.

A senior and a junior monk were travelling through the forest where they happen upon a young beautiful woman struggling to cross a river. The young woman asked if they could help her cross to the other side. The two monks glanced at one another because they had taken vows not to touch a woman.

The younger monk noticed the woman, said nothing and walked by. The older monk quickly picked her up and put her on his back, transported her across the water and put her down on the other side.

As they continued on their way, the young monk was brooding and preoccupied. After several hours, unable to hold his silence, he said “As monks, we are not permitted to touch a woman, how could you then carry that woman on your shoulders?”

The older monk looked at him and replied, “Brother, I set her down on the other side of the river, why are you still carrying her in your head? “

This simple Zen story has a beautiful message about living in the present moment.

How often do we carry around past hurts, holding onto resentments, allowing others with dirty shoes to walk through our brains when the only person we are really hurting is ourselves? How often do we try to hurt those we think have hurt us?  How often do we yell and scream, because we do not agree with what the other person is saying or doing?

We all go through times in life when other people say things or behave in a way that is hurtful towards us. We look at social media, get annoyed and seek to yell back at others. We can choose to ruminate over the comments of others, past actions or events and shout out loudly our hurt as a result, but it will ultimately only weigh us down and sap our energy.

Instead, we can choose to let go of what doesn’t serve us anymore and concentrate on the present moment. Instead of trying harder to let go, accept fully where you are. Embrace it completely.

I use meditation often as a way of achieving this. Until we can find a level of peace and happiness in the present circumstances of our lives, we will never be content, because ‘now’ is all we will ever have. We must invite what we desire into our lives through Meditation, Visualisation, Manifestation. There is no doubt, where your focus grows, energy flows. Focus on the wanted, not the unwanted.

Many people yell because it is their go-to coping mechanism in difficult situations or because they feel a loss of control over the situation. Bullies are often people who have a very sensitive core emotional psyche, are insecure in who they are and they are trying to mask that insecurity with heightened  aggression.

Some people are simply aggressive individuals. Some people become yellers because they grew up in a household where their parents yelled on a regular basis. Some people raise their voices and yell in anger because they feel the other person is not listening to them.

Reactions to Avoid with a Yeller

  • Stay calm and don’t feed into others anger.
  • Calmly address the yelling.

In most instances when someone is yelling at you, your emotions are evoked and you feel the need to react. Reacting with yelling, criticism, or other negative responses will escalate the situation. You need to do everything in your power to reel in your thoughts and feelings so you can address the real problem, which is their yelling. When you feel your emotions have calmed down, and you know how to address whatever it was they were yelling about, you can now go back to talk to the person.

THE MENTAL FILTER – 3 questions to ask yourself

  1. Do you get involved in heated debates with others on a regular basis?
  2. Do you find yourself yelling at the other person?
  3. Do your arguments follow the same routine or involve the same type of people?

If the answer is yes—maybe its time to Stop Shouting and Start Listening.


I coach many leaders, sports people and politicians with egos or anger issues that stop them from reaching the success they truly deserve. Everyone has a right to be right. Everyone’s voice matters. Yelling, however, while it may give short term satisfaction, it rarely achieves a good outcome. By understanding yourself better, you can change your life, your relationships and your successes.

Want to know more? If you are looking for coaching on change for yourself or your organisation, or would like more information on the work we do on Personal, Professional, or Organisational Change, please contact us on

About Dr Maurice Duffy

Irish. Author, Professor, Coach and Business strategist. The person Australian Captain Steve Smith credited with helping him back from his cricket ban. Coach to two Ashes wins. Coach to CEOs, Politicians and some of the best know international sports starts including Olympians. BBC ‘Thought for the Week’. Coached business leaders and organizations in 80 countries. Works with charities to do with Mental Health. Lives in North East England with his wife and 11-year-old son.