Coping with people who like to shout

Sometimes I feel like having a sign, ready to haul out when I need it: Don't Shout At Me. Do you think it would work? Do you suppose the Shouters would pause long enough to read it?

In my experience, they would. They'd be able to read that sign and carry on shouting if they liked. Or, for effect, stop what they were doing, read it and then shout louder because I've committed another atrocity.

They must be atrocities, right? I mean, I don't shout unless I have to or my temper has really got the better of me. I used to shout a lot more then realised it was learned behaviour and adapted to weed it out. Now I try not to do it, I take advance warning if my mood rises or my voice does the same.

I'm only human. I can shout if I have to; I can lose my temper and scream if I'm really pushed. And I can have an aspie meltdown and storm off, bellowing.

Shouters love to shout because to them it means other people must be listening. But just to be sure, they raise their voices to be certain they're the centre of attention.

Then they concentrate on your reaction, the person who dared to cause this outburst. You may think they're out of control and can't stop the shouting or have a runaway temper. It could be true but I doubt it. Do you know what they're really doing? Behind all the noise and bluster they are watching to see how you're taking it.

Are you upset, like a good wrong-doer? Do you look guilty? Do you want to cry? All great results, people but you want to know what the big one is? The thing they really want is for you to shout back.

Why would they need you to shout back? Simple, they need you to be the bad guy in all this. If they stand and yell at you with no response, their satisfaction-to-temper ratio diminishes and they have to increase the range of their performance.

If you stay completely silent and don't feed the fire, what do you get? You actually get a whole lot more shouting. Like a toddler rolling around on the floor, a tantrum is no good unless someone sees and reacts.

Readers, it took me years to learn this is a perfomance, as much an act as when I pretend to be normal and force myself to enter real-life. Unlike my own performances, this one always, always needs an audience, whereas mine is solo street art, meant for nothing except getting through a crowd.

How is the aspie meant to know this manipulation for what it is when we have trouble understanding even ourselves? You'll know when it's not the right kind of argument by how you feel about it.

You might not be able to explain why you feel this is wrong but your whole being will be off-kilter. It's one of those times when you have to follow your instincts and believe you are not to blame.

Like many aspies, I have been shouted at. Quite a lot, in fact. I don't know whether it's low self-esteem, a quiet personality or a willingness to get along with people: whatever lies behind it, I've attracted Shouters. And then, I've let them Shout.

The secret is to walk away, it's the only permanent answer. If you can't do that, you have to learn to deal with it and the best place to start is with yourself. Other people shout because they can, they choose to shout. It is not your fault.

Breaking the best china or falling on the dog or deleting all of Game of Thrones might be your fault. But the decision to shout instead of talking is theirs.

Never be tricked into believing it is you who causes the Shouting or that it would happen with everyone else too: shouters choose their audience wisely, and aspies can be a very good audience indeed.

Here's to all the people who told me these truths over the years, and eventually helped me believe them.


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