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There are people who are yellers and people who are not yellers. I fall into the latter category. My parents were occasional yellers, at least as I remember it. Back when I lived in apartments in Los Angeles, I would sometimes hear yellers. Their yells would echo through the narrow open spaces of the apartment complex. What they were yelling about was never clear, despite it often being repetitive.

If you took a Venn diagram of yellers and people who frequently use profanity, the two circles would largely overlap. Often times when I hear yellers, they are shouting profanities. Profanities require louder voices, apparently. This fits neatly into my own little world. I’m not a yeller, and I am also not one to use profanity, not out of any objection to it, but because, as Isaac Asimov has pointed out, the English language is so versatile, that one is usually able to say the same thing in a more clever and creative way without the profanity.

We were at a soccer practice the other day and one of the sets of parents were bickering. I suspect they were yellers, but they kept their voices moderated and only turned up the sarcasm so as not to startle all of the non-yellers surrounding them. (Those others that were yelling, myself included, were cheering on our kids on the field.)

I seem to surround myself with non-yellers. Kelly is not a yeller. Indeed, sometimes, when I am particularly annoyed with the kids and raise my voice a bit to emphasize my annoyance, Kelly will turn to me calmly and say, “Don’t yell.” I’m not aware that any of my friends are yellers. I’ve known most of them for thirty years or more and I can’t recall I time when they yelled. Well, I can recall one time, in college, but the yelling just made me laugh so I guess it wasn’t very effective.

On television shows, people at work are always yelling at one another. Arguments break out in fictional offices all the time. Characters scream at one another, hurling invective across conference tables, or shouting at invisible audiences on speakerphones. In 27 years at my company, I can’t recall a single time when someone yelled at someone else. I’ve been in thousands of meetings and there was certainly disagreement in some of them, but it was all civil and calm. No one at my company yells. At one point, there was a C.I.O. who I’m told was a yeller (I never saw him yell, but I believe it). He didn’t last very long. It’s not in our corporate culture to yell.

Some people yell because they don’t think you can hear them. I’ve seen people yell at someone who doesn’t speak their language. The idea is that yelling will somehow make them understand. Occasionally, I’ll be in a meeting and Kelly will say, “Why were you yelling?” I wasn’t, but I had my noise-cancelling headset on and couldn’t hear myself talk, so naturally, I talked louder than normal.

Whenever I hear a yeller, I think of that a verse from a Dr. Seuss book:

I do not like that one so well
All he does is yell, yell, yell
I do not like that one about
When he comes in I put him out.

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