is there a reasonable amount of yelling at work, or is any yelling too much?

A reader writes:

On a video meeting yesterday, my coworker (Orion) yelled at me. Orion was acting as our coach in this meeting — he’s not a member of our team. For the sake of anonymity, let’s say we’re llama groomers (we’re not). We were discussing how difficult it was that our llamas weren’t fully groomed this week, and he said that it’s impossible to fully groom them. We are quite familiar with the issue, but need to work with the groomers on a procedure to catch the missed spots and fix them. The groomers have all the brushes, so anytime we found a missed spot we’d have to message them to fix it — not ideal.

Orion was warming up to give us another lecture on how it’s impossible to have the full grooming we need, and I tried to cut in and table the discussion. He raised his voice, angrily insisted on talking first, and continued to llamasplain. Ten minutes later, I could get a word in and said, “Orion, please don’t raise your voice with me again.” He apologized. My team lead, Andromeda, immediately sent me a chat message with her support. An hour later, Orion sent me an apology on chat too.

I’m quite sensitive to yelling. The interaction barely qualified as yelling, but I was shaking during the rest of that meeting. As soon as it was over, I stress-cried for several minutes, then took a long walk to calm down. Processing that interaction and my feelings around it also triggered my insomnia. My strong sensitivity here may be linked to my autism, I’m not sure. I don’t think it’s something that’s likely to change, and I typically avoid people who need to yell.

I was in the office today (Orion was not) and a few people who heard what happened said, “That is so awesome that you stood up to him! We support you! He’s always been like this and we’ve just gotten used to it but it’s definitely not okay.” Andromeda said she’s had to hang up on him and wait for him to calm down, and Cassiopeia (from a different team entirely) has refused to work with Orion.

So now I’m worried. I don’t have the emotional capacity to deal with that often. I’ve been at this company for three months and this is the first incident, but he frequently derails meetings by re-explaining things we understand and telling us we’re wrong, so I can’t imagine a productive relationship without being able to set boundaries.

This is a 25-person startup, and the CEO is HR. I will mention it to him (we have a feedback-type meeting in a few days anyway), but I’m at a loss for what I can expect in the future. Will I be enforcing my own boundaries, or can the CEO do something? Is there some amount of yelling I need to tolerate in a neurotypical workplace? Is there something explicit I should be asking from all these people who support me and are a bit tired of this side of Orion? I don’t want to fight, but work is draining enough without getting yelled at or mansplained to.

And I’ve just gotten through this email and realized that if they’re the llama groomer team, our job would be to dress the llamas in little outfits. That thought has cheered me immensely, and is also a reasonable metaphor for how much I like the work I’m doing.

Whether you answer this or not, thanks for all the advice! As an autistic ex-academic, your archives read like a crash course in how to human in the workplace, which is immensely helpful.

There’s no amount of yelling you should be expected to tolerate in a workplace, unless someone is yelling to alert you that your shirt is on fire.

That’s not a guarantee that you’ll never encounter yelling in a workplace, because it does happen. It’s abusive and it shouldn’t happen, but there are offices where it does. There are far more where it doesn’t — and where it would be considered a shocking event if it did — but there indeed some companies that tolerate it.

But it’s completely reasonable to decide that you’re not willing to be yelled at (I’m not either), and that you won’t work somewhere that accepts it as a normal thing.

The good news here is that you’ve already done an awesome job of setting that boundary (telling Orion not to raise his voice to you, and getting two apologies from him). And it’s possible that now that you’ve stood up to him, Orion won’t raise his voice around you again — he’s seen you won’t stand for it, his apologies indicate he probably feels sheepish about it, and he might feel ridiculous putting himself in that situation again. Sometimes — even often — with office yellers, calmly and firmly saying the behavior needs to stop really does get them to stop doing it around you. (I suspect that’s because it highlights how out-of-control and foolish they seem, and that makes them look weak … which they don’t like.)

It’s also a good sign that your colleagues have been so supportive — as opposed to a reaction more like, “Yeah, that’s just how he is and you have to deal with it.” And Cassiopeia has gotten away with refusing to work with Orion altogether, so I think there’s a lot of room for you to be assertive about setting boundaries again if you need to.

You don’t need to just wait and see what happens though. You could talk to Andromeda (or your manager, or the CEO in that upcoming feedback meeting) about it now and say, “I’m not willing to be yelled at, and I want to make sure that I have your support in refusing to let Orion do it if that happens again.” Hell, for that matter, you could say, “It sounds like this is a systemic issue with Orion and people have been putting up with it but are really unhappy about it. Can this be addressed with him so no one has to worry it will happen again?”

As for what could or should be happening: someone with authority over Orion should have shut this down the first time they became aware of it. Orion’s manager should have told him extremely clearly that he can’t yell at colleagues, period. And it sounds like there’s more problematic behavior from him they need to be addressing too. But instead, he’s become your office’s missing stair — everyone is working around him, knowing what he’s doing isn’t acceptable but putting up with it anyway. At a minimum that indicates Orion has an overly passive manager … but sometimes passive managers, while not spurred to action on their own, will act if they get enough pushing from others to.

Obviously it’s not a great sign that this has been allowed to continue up until now. But sometimes a new person coming in and saying, “Whoa, this isn’t okay” instead of just reluctantly accepting it does get offices to finally address situations like this. Not always, but sometimes.

So from here, I think you’ll need to watch and see what happens. If nothing else, there’s a decent chance that Orion will treat you more respectfully in the future, just because you called him on the behavior and said you wouldn’t tolerate it.

In general, though, you absolutely can decline to accept being yelled at — and to explicitly say, “I’m not willing to be yelled at” — and if a job doesn’t support you in that, it’s a reasonable thing to leave over.

Read an update to this letter.

{ 387 comments… read them below }

  1. Rachers*

    This is timely – I had a TimeHop image pop up today of a screenshot I had taken. It was an e-mail to my former boss saying “I am happy to work on a solution but I will not tolerate being yelled at” (or something to that effect). Do NOT miss working with someone who could become volatile so easily, and over things that could easily be fixed.

    1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I admire the moxie on my 23 year old self in my first “big” job — I’d seen my boss yell at a colleague in our department and later on I walked into his office and said “just so you know if you ever yell at me I walk”. I guess I just really thought I had to get out in front of that? Hard to say! But he never did yell at me. I don’t think I ever heard him yell again.

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        Now I think I would handle it differently. I might have said I am not okay with yelling at work, rather than personalizing it or making it a threat.

        1. MsSolo (UK)*

          I quite like the almost casualness to the approach. Just pop your head around the door, and like you’re letting your boss know that, hey, there’s cookies in the breakroom, you set a boundary that clearly hit home for him!

        2. PinaColada*

          Oh I LOVE this. What a badass you were! I am fully taking that line and using it in the future.

          1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

            I miss her! She was pretty fearless. Then I gained social awareness and started sanding down too many of my edges.

    1. Kwebbel*

      Agreed. I’ve been at my current company for 4 years now. I haven’t once heard anything that remotely resembles yelling. People disagree with each other here, and sometimes people are frustrated that their preferred approach to a problem isn’t the one the team selects. But there’s no yelling. This is so different from my company beforehand, where shouting was a daily occurrence from the CEO down. It does say a lot about the health of the organization when yelling feels like a common occurrence. This is one of those things where, after working at a toxic workplace for a while, you recalibrate to view the toxic behavior as normal. It’s good to keep in mind that it’s not – and that may help you get to a better situation faster.

    2. Ace in the Hole*

      No amount of yelling is okay under normal circumstances, but I do think it’s sometimes acceptable or even good.

      In emergencies, sometimes yelling is necessary to get people to follow instructions quickly or to get their attention. I will yell at someone who is not following evacuation instructions, or if I need them to get a defibrillator, etc. and I expect anyone I work with to do the same.

      Similarly, if someone is about to do something very dangerous and you can stop them by yelling… you should yell. It is absolutely okay to yell at a coworker to get away from the open gas can when they’re holding a lit cigarette, for example.

      And while I wouldn’t say it’s good, I think it’s understandable/acceptable for someone to yell at work if they just went through something intensely frightening or upsetting. For example, I wouldn’t think less of someone for briefly yelling at a coworker who just nearly hit them with a forklift.

      1. Trotwood*

        Yes, I think there’s a clear difference between yelling in an emergency or to communicate urgent safety information, versus yelling related to the work product. There should never be reason to yell about normal work issues, including about challenges, mistakes, or setbacks that are within the normal realm of things that happen at work.

      2. Jessica*

        There are absolutely edge cases, and “imminent physical danger” is one of them.

        But it’s hard to think of many others.

        1. Mack*

          First one I thought of was if there’s a lot of noise and yelling is the only way to be comprehensible. But that’s not relevant to OP’s situation and I’m sure some would argue the semantics of yelling vs shouting for that.

      3. new year, new name*

        Personally, I wouldn’t call that “yelling”! That’s raising your voice for a good reason, or something. Maybe even “shouting.” But a least to me, “yelling” has a pretty strong connotation of anger or “getting in trouble.”

        1. Ace in the Hole*

          I do agree there’s a difference between simply raising your voice (e.g. to be heard over background noise, or across a distance) and “yelling.”

          The emotional connotations to yelling are actually important. Talking loudly is not necessarily enough. Sometimes it’s necessary to actually yell – the harshness/anger/danger is part of what gets through to people. They WILL be in trouble if they don’t listen, very serious trouble, and it’s essential to convey that instantly!

      4. lucanus cervus*

        Yeah, I’m also thinking of the recent LW who had undergone a horrible assault including facial injuries and who tried to work through the aftermath because it was busy season, but was pushed to breaking point by colleagues pestering her to talk about what happened. THAT was a justified yell.

        Yelling out of plain old irritation in the course of normal work activities, however, is not OK.

      5. Your local password resetter*

        I think there’s a big difference between yelling at people, and just loudly and urgently talking to them.
        The first has an undertone of violence and threat to it. They’re trying to intimidate, threaten or overpower you in some way, even if it’s just in volume to silence you.
        The second is just communicating in unusual circumstances.

    3. zuzu*

      I got told I had an attitude at my first job in BigLaw because I didn’t like to get yelled at.

      Or blamed for other people’s mistakes *that I was discovering and trying to fix* because the person who made the mistakes, which were huge, was now a partner and couldn’t be yelled at. But oh, you could yell at the first-year associate.

      I was sobbing, fully sobbing, in my office every single day at that job. It’s the reason I decided to get out of practicing, though that didn’t happen for another ten years until I went to library school. But it’s still with me 20-odd years later and still warps my perspective about jobs and work environments. I work for the SWEETEST guy now, but I still brace myself to ask for time off, assuming it will get denied, and certain tones of voice send me into a cold sweat (it wasn’t so much yelling as hissing – the counsel I worked for didn’t want the admin outside his office to know he mistreated his associates and paralegals).

      Luckily, nobody yells in libraries.

      1. Seal*

        Luckily, nobody yells in libraries.
        As an academic librarian, I have to disagree with this. My last 2 directors yelled at people regularly, to the the point that people left because of it. Not surprisingly, they were both terrible managers and bad communicators. They both claimed to believe in shared governance and encouraged input, but became verbally abusive whenever someone didn’t agree with them. They played favorites and abused boundaries, especially with less experienced staff, and regularly justified their actions by saying “I’m the director and can do what I want.” What’s particularly frustrating is that they both failed up to get to that point in their respective careers, largely because they both have a certain degree of charisma. As a manager myself, I go out of my way to not behave like they do.

      2. laser99*

        I have a question. Everything I have read on this site leads me to believe that many lawyers are straight-up abusive to underlings. So that happens if you push back? If you’re a first-year and the big cheese shouts, do you get thrown out of you refuse to take it? Blackballed?

        1. CM*

          As zuzu notes above, they were warned about their “attitude” because they didn’t like being yelled at. Tolerating that kind of treatment is seen as part of your job performance. Pushing back means you would be immediately labeled as a problem employee, and if you did it consistently you would be fired. References for future jobs would reflect that you did not have the temperament to be a lawyer.

  2. Amber Rose*

    Acceptable reasons for yelling: Danger, urgently calling someone from across a large room, excited shrieking.
    Unacceptable reasons for yelling: literally everything else

    I could do without the excited shrieking honestly but I give it a pass since it’s a positive source. If you win the lottery or something you’re entitled to a little yelling, in my opinion.

    Orion sounds like an unpleasant person all around, apologies aside. Sorry you have to deal with him at all.

    1. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Have to agree about Orion. Even in my role, where a certain amount of “loud” and “sometimes quite abrupt loud” are expected and acceptable, “yelling” – ACTUAL yelling – is pretty much along the lines you’ve laid out.

      My role has both collaboration AND hard deadlines that involve time stamping electronically. So yeah, its a little stressful and sometimes leads to loud. Yet “yellers” are still not acceptable.

      1. All Het Up About It*

        where a certain amount of “loud” and “sometimes quite abrupt loud” are expected and acceptable

        This is the grey area I struggle with sometimes, and I’ve tried to be better and think I have, because I realize that things I did not feel were yelling, were coming across that way. I was never accused of yelling at someone, but I remember when someone let me know I was coming off as angry when I thought I was presenting firm and adamant.

        I think that there’s some very obvious NOT okay yelling at scenarios, that everyone who is reasonable agrees on. But then there are some grey areas where people are going to be “Don’t yell” and others will be, “What? I’m not yelling.”

        1. ScruffyInternHerder*

          At least in my exact work space, “loud” and “sometimes quite abrupt loud” really can be summed up as “has anyone seen the TPS reports?” or “bring the quote from the llama grooming company here” yelled/said at a slightly louder than conversational level from across the room, or similar loudly spoken things/questions in a collaborative environment that is not quiet. Its not unheard of to have 20ish people in these collaborative environments – even at normal conversation levels, it can be noisy!

          Yelled to vs. yelled at is also a great descriptor. Yelling at happens about as frequently swearing at around here, and its about as (not) acceptable. Nobody blinks an eye over a “what the (fork)”. But “(fork) you”? That’s never acceptable.

          1. Anne of Green Gables*

            This captures something I was thinking about. I was framing it in my head as “calling out” as opposed to yelling.

          2. Splendid Colors*

            Where I live, using any kind of swear words in the presence of employees is a lease violation. Even if it’s a context like “oh shit, my car won’t start!” where it clearly isn’t AT them.

            1. Goody*

              I’m sorry…. WHAT? Are you seriously telling me that you can become unhoused for a private conversation????? What general area is this?

        2. Hannah Lee*

          What can be difficult is that the definitions of “too loud” or “yelling” can vary depending on who it is speaking and who it is that is policing the speaking.

          For example, the LW who had the co-worker who was making negative comments about his body and his muscles likely would be considered to be yelling by that co-worker for speaking in a way that would be considered normal by other people.

          I’m a woman who never ever yells at work; I don’t have a particularly loud voice and can’t really muster up a lot of volume even if I try. But yet I had one coworker who would tell me to stop yelling, to not raise my voice to them, etc any time I spoke with any emotion or emphasis. And this was at a company where the manager in the department next to ours yelled all the time, very loudly, with profanities, at co-workers, his staff, distributors on the phone, and senior management’s response was not to tell him to stop yelling, but instead to install soundproofing in his office.

        3. Not A Girl Boss*

          I am also a Highly Sensitive Person, and as such, other people’s emotions sometimes feel loud at me, even if they are not factually being loud.

          This is a pattern I discovered with my husband back when we were dating, when I would say “stop yelling at me” and he’d get a confused look on his face and say “But I’m not yelling?” He then started questioning my recounts of encounters with teachers, bosses, friends, etc, where I would say “they yelled at me” to better understood what actually happened.
          Turns out “yelling” to me was a generalized term for exhibitions of annoyance, frustration, reprimands, impoliteness, raised voices, tones of voice, or strong feelings in general. But they really did all FEEL like yelling to me!

          Anyway. I went to work in a pretty ‘passionate’ industry. Heated/passionate debates are a normal and healthy part of working there, and I’ve learned to take it a little less personally.
          But, on the flip side, I have worked for a company where real live YELLING was a big thing. So much so that we had a secret tally counting up times each boss lost their marbles on us and pools on who would get to 10 meltdowns before the end of the month. And I noped out of there as fast as possible.
          What helped me survive in the meantime was just turning it around mentally: Instead of feeling attacked and absorbing all the feelings of blame/shame/embarrassment/sadness, I worked on feeling embarrassed for the yeller instead. As in “OMG, look how weak and out of control this silly little man child looks right now, getting so upset about llamas that its ruined his day. Poor guy, I’m going to be home enjoying my baklava for dessert, and he’s still going to be pacing back and forth ranting to his wife about llama injustices.”

          1. All Het Up About It*

            A few weeks ago, I decided to bop over to the other side of our office to stretch my legs and see if someone was in office. Different areas are segmented by various hallways and as I was approaching the entrance of the last hallway I heard two or three members of this team YELLING at each other. I could have been on wildlife documentary. I froze and then slowly backed away from the doorway until I felt safe that I wasn’t going to attract attention and then I turned and BOOKED it back to my office, where I just sent an email, to the person who was definitely not in the office because I’m pretty sure they would not have been cool with their team acting like that.

            To me that’s such an obvious example of behavior that is NOT okay – I couldn’t even quite fathom it.

          2. Lyra (OP)*

            Ooooh that’s such a good strategy for not taking it personally. And in the end, it’s just so *surprising* that someone’s that mad about llamas.

      2. Llama Outfits Sound Awesome*

        I’m thinking about an environment like food service. The workplace is loud because of factors outside anyone’s control and there’s real urgency about every stage of the deliverables. Abrupt-loud is necessary. But I wonder if it’s a coincidence that actual abusive yelling is common in those environments too?

    2. EPLawyer*

      Even if he weren’t yelling he sounds unpleasant. So the problem is not that Orion yells. Its Orion’s whole behavior. He derails meetings to Orionsplain things, then refuses to be stopped. People have literally refused to stop working with him. That’s not a good sign.

      Now there are things you can do. You already did well by saying it is not acceptable. Everyone who has supported them – let them know they should call out Orion in the moment too. Orion, we have already discussed this. We know what the problem is, we are trying to find a solution.

      Of course if management allows it to go on, you might need to consider how much you love working there under those conditions — no matter how many cute llama outfits you get to put on the llamas at the end of the day.

      1. Lyra (OP)*

        This is a good point. In the three months since I sent the question in, Orion has not yelled again, but Orion has still Orionsplained frequently.

      1. Quality Girl*

        Yes. The one time I yelled at work was when there was a mouse. In my drawer. Scurrying over the silverware I was about to grab to eat my breakfast.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Yikes. I am not a skittish person and generally not afraid of critters but the one time I remember shrieking was when there was a mouse in my apartment. It was SO FAST. I wasn’t scared, I was just startled, and somehow it caused my startle response to jump two octaves higher than usual. (Sadly for the mouse, our three cats at the time made quick work of the poor thing.)

          1. not a hippo*

            Yeah mice don’t really bother me but one time my dog caught a mouse (terrier gonna terrier) and I genuinely lept onto a chair and shrieked like some woman in a Tom & Jerry cartoon because it was uhhh not a pretty sight. Poor mouse.

            1. CommanderBanana*

              My dog caught a large rat in our backyard and was trying to get back into the house with it (where I’m sure she would have buried it in my bed, the Repository of All Treasures*). The screaming was epic.

              *I learned to check inside my pillowcases for things like marrow bones and particularly valued chewies.

            2. Lizzo*

              LOL–see also “terriers doin’ terrier sh*t”, which was the phrase applied to my friend’s 12 year old pittie after she eviscerated a city-size rat she found under the back deck of their house.

      2. Lenora Rose*

        I was about to say…

        So many years ago this was the job I was working during 9/11, I was working in a hundred year old house revamped into a business space. So yeah, mice on occasion. One day, I made the coffee, then dumped the filter full of really hot grounds into the trash bin… and there was horrified squeak from the trash bin and a lot of frantic jumping by a three inch fuzzball who could not get out of the bin. I was accused for ages after of being “the one who scalded the mouse”.

        (I carried it outside and tipped it over for the mouse to run away. It was probably back inside in 60 seconds but at least it wasn’t in the kitchen trash.)

      3. ScruffyInternHerder*

        In the sighting of an overly large bug, I did not yell or shriek

        I did, however, throw a work boot. Hard. Thank goodness that was in a field-role, not an office one!

    3. Jessica*

      I feel like almost all of the edge cases people are bringing up fall under “yelling, but not *at* anyone.”

      A happy shout because your company just did an IPO and it wildly exceeded everyone’s expectations and everyone who works there is suddenly financially secure? Not yelling at anyone. A shriek because a spider just dropped off the ceiling onto your desk? Not yelling at anyone. Warning someone there’s a fire? Yelling *to* someone to warn them, not at them.

      I think what the people who are saying “yelling at someone is never acceptable at work” are saying is it’s never acceptable to raise your voice as an expression of anger or contempt toward a colleague.

      1. AnonORama*

        Yes, definitely yell “at” vs. yell “about.” Sometimes a yell in our office means we just got a huge donation, but that’s usually a “woo!” or “hell yeah!” kind of yell. The decibel level can still be distracting, but because it’s not negative or directed AT someone, it’s ok.

    4. The Prettiest Curse*

      I am definitely in the “yelling at work is never okay unless it’s a dire emergency” camp myself, but during lockdown it was interesting to see professional dancers and dance students discussing being yelled at (I saw these discussions on dance Instagram accounts that I follow.) The debates that I saw generally came down on the “yelling is not okay” side, but there was a significant minority who said that they couldn’t motivate themselves to train unless someone was yelling at them. (I’ve heard of the same phenomenon with professional athletes.)

      In any dance class, the teacher will be shouting out instructions and corrections at you anyway, so maybe some dancers just see it as an extension of that.
      So anyway, there are probably a significant percentage of managers who think that yelling is motivating. (Ugh, what an awful thought!)

  3. AlwhoisThatAl*

    Yes, you should never be yelled at, unless you are in danger. To me it’s the ultimate red flag. If they yell, they are obviously abusing many otehr parts of their job

  4. The Crowening*

    Good for you, OP. It’s so gross how many people believe “I feel strongly = I should be able to raise my voice” and/or “I used to get yelled at, I paid my dues, and now it’s my turn to do the yelling and it’s your turn to just put up with it.” It’s self-serving BS – all of it. Would love an update on this one.

  5. Capt. Liam Shaw*

    Only time yelling is appropriate in an office setting is a health and safety issue. Unfortunately though I think everyone has to experience a yelling boss/coworker.

    And yes a yelling boss is a very good reason to job search.

    1. Antilles*


      There might occasionally be reasons to increase your volume but do so calmly (e.g., background noise, trying to get someone’s attention from a distance, etc) – but in terms of actual anger or demanding yelling? Only if there’s a health and safety concern that needs addressed ASAP.

    2. Slow Gin Lizz*

      It’s funny, I was just thinking that I’ve never had a yelling boss or coworker but then I remembered all the orchestras I’ve played with and refused to go back to because the conductor was a yeller. Since they were just one-off things (a few nights of rehearsal and a concert or two) I was much more able to refuse to work with them again but it may have prevented me from getting hired for other jobs (probably not though).

    3. Emily*

      I worked in a very dysfunctional office. We often went to HR with various complaints, and if they ever did anything about them, we couldn’t tell. Except for one thing. The big boss could be prone to yelling. Just one or two complaints about it and it stopped.

      LW, I’m also very sensitive to yelling. It basically makes me want to hide/freeze/cry. I’ve been working in offices for 15+ years now, and other than that boss (who never yelled at me), I’ve only experienced one or two other yelling incidents and about the same number of super intense negative incidents in which no voices were raised. It is not something you should expect in a workplace.

    4. Selina Luna*

      Mine was my dad. You know the “never work for a family business” thing? That includes YOUR family…

  6. BellyButton*

    I am really proud of LW for being able to stand up in the moment. Often we are so caught off guard that we freeze up and don’t say anything. I refuse to tolerate yelling. It has taken me years of therapy to be able to not freeze when someone yells. It is unacceptable.

    It IS a good sign that so many people supported LW. Hopefully, more people will stop him in the moment. I would even request that who ever the meeting owner or the most senior person is that they mute him when he raises his voice.

    LW- please know that being able to call someone out in the moment is a great thing, and something many people can’t do!

    1. Reality Check*

      I’m one of those people that stands up to people like Orion. Unfortunately it has been my experience that while others might pull me aside privately to show their support, rarely if ever do they join me publicly. They’re content to watch me stick my neck out. Just brace yourself for that, OP.

      1. Qwerty*

        Yeah, I’m pretty annoyed that the team lead sent a private chat to OP supporting her, but didn’t actually do anything in the meeting to protect a member of her team.

        1. Observer*

          Yes. That’s why it’s a good sign that people support them. But it’s a much more concerning sign that no one seems to have done anything about his behavior. Behavior that is a known problem. This didn’t take anyone by surprise.

          1. RunShaker*

            I froze up multiple times to my director that would yell at me. He even lunged forward at me from across the table. I was a total mess afterwards. He had been suspended by his boss for yelling. Another coworker told him to stop… nothing worked so I went to HR.
            I’m happy to see coworkers support OP and Orion apologized. OP stood up for herself. Sending virtual hugs.

        2. Middle Aged Lady*

          It is frustrating. I have compassion for thise folks though. I was raised by a rageaholic dad who frightened me so much that anyone in authority yelling made me freeze in terror. I could not stand up for myself or others in the moment.
          Years of therapy and I can do it sometimes, but with the risk that I will ‘go off’ on the yeller: “HOW DARE YOU TALK TO HER LIKE THAT!” and that doesn’t help anyone.
          I got fired for doing this once. Sometimes it’s risky for me to opeen my mouth. It’s sad how trauma drives so many of us.

    2. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      I think autistic folks are generally more likely to address a broken stair.

    3. Jessica*

      Echoing this. I’m so happy that LW was able to speak up in the moment, and did so.

  7. Jane Bingley*

    This goes for customers, too, for the record.

    When I was a supervisor for a team that worked directly with the public, I made it clear to my team that any customer raising their voice was to be directed to me immediately. They got one polite “I understand your frustration and I’d really like to help, but I can’t assist you until you’re calm” before being asked to leave or ending the call.

    There’s a real increase in bad behaviour since the pandemic hit and it should be on those with power in organizations to make it clear there’s a zero-tolerance policy for abuse.

    1. EPLawyer*

      Let me just say I HATE the I understand your frustration. If I am bothering to actually call customer service, I passed frustration awhile ago. Don’t condescend to me and definitely don’t give fake apologies. Get to the point and let me know if you can solve the problem or not. If you can’t get me to someone who can.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        Oof, yeah. The last time I had to call our IT provider, it took over 9 hours on the phone in aggregate to finally get to someone who 1. knew what I was talking about and 2. could assist with getting a tech team out to replace cable, all the while my household of 3 remote workers was without internet.

        I am sure that I was not civil or kind during the entirety of those interactions, but what said unnamed internet company (yes, we are switching as soon as it’s an option in our area) expected me to go through to get service restored was, IMHO, completely unreasonable.

      2. Kermit's Bookkeepers*

        I think what Jane’s suggesting is that “I understand your frustration” only comes out for customers who are already being abusive. It’s appropriately condescending because at that point they are already being childish.

          1. metadata minion*

            Is there another way you’d recommend to respond to an abusive customer?

          2. Middle Aged Lady*

            I found it did work on a lot of people because they felt heard.
            A lot of people want to be ‘massaged.’ You and I might prefer, “can’t help you, let me transfer you to someone who can,” but for every one of us, there are the ones who are angry at the thought of being transferred, “why can’t you fix it?” and so on.
            Companies have researched the scripts. You and I might not like them, but there is a reason they are there.

      3. Former Young Lady*

        I get the sense that the script isn’t for customers who have reasonably-frayed nerves and actually want a solution. That script is for customers who throw a full-scale temper tantrum and verbally abuse the staff.

        As a customer, if I want to be treated like a grownup, I have to act like one.

      4. L. Bennett*

        People in customer service are just doing their jobs (often for minimum wage or only slightly better) and get abused all day long. You’re frustrated as the customer and want to get it resolved, but they’re trying to not be screamed at for the 40th time that day. Being blunt can come off as aggression to a lot of folks and it will quickly escalate the situation. Be patient when on the phone with customer service.

        1. Chirpy*

          This, and likely you do not have any power to fix the problem in the way the customer wants, can’t get backup from a manager, or will be undercut by the manager if you try to follow the stated policies (that could get you fired if you didn’t. ) Plus, you’re probably short staffed and underpaid. There is absolutely NO excuse for abusing customer service workers.

      5. Lenora Rose*

        It’s actually a formal de-escalation technique to reflect the person’s emotions back, and indicate understanding. It should only be applied when the person is past “frustrated but reasonable”, and into abusive, and it shouldn’t be boilerplate language even if the intent is the same. When it’s used as boilerplate, it can be far tooo easily misused and that’s when it gets perceived as condescending, but the actual purpose is to get back to focusing on the issue instead of the emotion — and when used right, it can in fact lead FASTER to getting back to learning whether someone can solve the problem you want solved.

        I’ve had to use it on someone who was literally just going in circles repeating their same demands over and over and not getting anywhere. Although sadly, the solution there was that I did have to hang up on them (Not an IT situation, though equivalent to a complaint call. I was explaining, repeatedly, that I had to call and talk to *other people* and call him back, and he wanted those other people – one in another building – to magically appear on the phone with him right that second.)

        1. She of Many Hats*

          Yeah, yesterday dealing with a bank’s phone tree customer service and getting routed to the wrong *country’s* support team twice led to a definite edge in my voice and got me the Scripted I’m Sorry You’re Frustrated line in the Script Voice and did NOT improve my mood. And yet, on a different call related to the bank issue, another rep used a real and honest tone to say the same words and it helped me feel heard and understood.

        2. workswitholdstuff*

          I’ve been out of call centre work for over a decade now, but this was absolutely a tactic we were told to use on the *unreasonable and screaming* customers.

          Our guidance was that customers got warned, reminded once and the 3rd time in a call we were sworn at, screamed at etc, we were empowered to put the phone down. (ideally, putting a note on the customers file to advise of this, so that if they rang back, the next person was prepared, and could reemphasise if needed).

          I have used it – if someone is generally frustrated and lost temper but it’s less at *you* than the company, it normally tones it back down, or reminds them of reasonable behaviour. If they carry on they’d get the ‘I’m trying to help, but I do not have to tolerate abusive language/shouting to do so, please stop or I’ll terminate the call’.

          Either they’d stop and you’d crack on, they’d cuss again and either hang up, or you’d go ‘I warned you, I’m now terminating’.

          I get frustrated myself calling Call centres, but I always remember that most of the time it’s the situation, not the person, and that helps me stay calm.

          I don’t care if people are frustrated – shouting or swearing at the employees is NOT okay – you wouldn’t like someone doing it to you…

          1. Lenora Rose*

            I think I remember once recently where it did make me back up and emphasize my upset was at the situation and not their fault at all. But I think someone should warn call centre staff that pulling it out too early also tends to have the same result as telling someone “Calm down”.

            The other thing about it is that the person using the line needs to emphasize that this is the *route* to getting the problem solved. Understanding they’re frustrated is no help at all if there’s nothing actionable attached.

            1. workswitholdstuff*

              Oh absolutely. I would follow it up with repeating whatever info I needed to actually try and solve the issue (because often people would launch into the attack without any context….)
              My worst call for that was my very first call after training – it was supposed to be literally just giving people repair information – but this caller was *screaming* down the phone at me, and would not listen to me saying ‘I want to help, I literally don’t have access to the systems to help you, but if you let me put you on hold I can transfer you through. (He didn’t believe me – I understood why, but it’s really upsetting to be on the end of that on a beginning call before you’ve developed the tough skin…

              I eventually had the trainer sat next to me coaching as I eventually got through to the chap, and then rang through to the customer services line with it – I’ll forever be grateful to the lovely lady who took that call off me…

      6. AngryOctopus*

        Please remember that CS people often have scripts that they HAVE to follow in order to meet requirements. So you’re angry that they say “I understand your frustration” but they have a literal metric in front of them that says “if the customer is frustrated by something, empathize with them by saying that you understand that they are frustrated”. If they don’t say it, they can get dinged on their performance. It’s the same when they try to upsell on something. You don’t want it, you don’t want them to sell it to you, but they have a metric that says “ask customer to upgrade to X at least twice”.

        1. Hannah Lee*

          I would love Alison to do a “tell us about your job” interview with one of the people who writes those scripts, because while I understand that there is a % of customers where those scripts may be useful will actually de-escalate an interaction that is going south, it seems like that approach is trotted out way too much and multiple times throughout a call, so it’s clear it’s a script, it’s disconnected from the actual conversation going on and it’s just it’s lip service, and does nothing to either improve the customer experience, speed the CS reps ability to resolve/close the call.

          (Note, I’m someone who is, I’m told by people who have observed me while I’m on the phone with CS reps about whatever, incredibly patient and can keep my cool and be pleasant to whomever I’m speaking with, even when they are either slow or no help in resolving my issue. So I don’t think I’m just getting the fast track script decision-tree move to “hot head here – use the big de-escalation guns”. It’s just that the scripts seem really bad)

          1. Chirpy*

            As a person who has to use the scripts but has no say in writing them….I do think the writers sometimes have zero ideas of what actually goes on at store level.

            Granted, I once had to watch an entire corporate training video on “problem customers are just annoyed they haven’t been helped yet!” starring people from our corporate office. The corporate guy who was leading the training at our location never did get back to us with an answer when we told him “actually, the problem customers are the misogynistic ones or sexually harassing us, what do you want us to do when a customer grabs us or refuses to let a woman on staff help them find a product?”

      7. Critical Rolls*

        Please be aware when you’re at the point of BEC on a call, because you’re filtering everything through a lens of frustration to the point where you ascribe ill intentions to whatever the CS rep says (“condescending,” “fake”). They’re human beings, they are trying to do a job, they may not have all the information, and they *definitely* have procedures they must follow before resolving or escalating an issue. I have been on both sides, and coming from a place of “this rep is an unhelpful jerk who is condescending on purpose” is rarely accurate and never productive.

        1. anon in affordable housing*

          As the leader of a tenant union, I strongly disagree.

          One discovery we made at tenant union meetings was that management IS DEFINITELY condescending and rude to EVERYONE. It appears to be a tactic to escalate any conversation with a tenant–even something that the average preschooler with a play grocery store could handle politely–into a situation where the tenant may say something salty enough or loudly enough to give them a lease violation for insubordination.

          It took me 3 weeks of daily calls to get my AT&T internet sorted out when I was trying to switch from an AT&T reseller to direct AT&T DSL service. After a few calls, I think they were trying to get me to quit as a customer because they didn’t want my business when I was going to be on a discounted DSL plan.

          1. Critical Rolls*

            Yes, you can definitely provide specific examples of bad behavior, I didn’t say it doesn’t exist. But using it as a baseline expectation is bad for everybody.

      8. Kella*

        There are no magic words that work on everyone when they have a problem that should’ve already been solved and it hasn’t. You want them to cut to the chase and find reflection condescending, but other customers escalate in response direct communication and are only mollified by a great deal of softening and hand-holding.

        It’s not reasonable to expect a customer service rep who is paid next to nothing and received abuse all day to be able to mind-read the way *you* specifically wish to be spoken to and avoid all other forms of communication. It’s especially unreasonable to expect call center workers to have autonomy over *how* they speak to you, because the majority of the time, they really don’t.

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      Years ago I was on a call with a debt collector for a debt my goddaughter had. At one point I finally got exasperated at him not giving me an answer, but I did not raise my voice nor use abusive language. He told me to quit yelling at him. It’s hard to respond when you’re not yelling, but are frustrated, and then you’re accused of yelling.

      1. Sloanicota*

        It’s definitely true that firm language can be described as “yelling” by others even if it didn’t happen (I’ve definitely had coworkers say our boss “yelled at them” when they meant she spoke to them firmly; she’s definitely not a yeller).

      2. Cafe au Lait*

        Years ago I asked a library patron to take their phone call elsewhere. He was agreeable and then told the person on the other end of the call “Yeah, the librarian is yelling at me.”

        Screech, halt, WHAT? I cleared my throat and he had the grace to say “Well, she’s not actually yelling at me.”

      3. ACM*

        confession: the same thing happened to me once, in person–the previous day coworker put an essential piece of equipment in a place I couldn’t find for a solid hour and he put me badly behind. I was letting him know and asking him to please put it back where it goes when he uses it. I was exasperated but reasonable and polite until he said “I could do without this yelling.”

        I’m not proud of what I did next–I said “That’s not yelling” then filled my lungs and went “THIS IS YELLING, SEE WHAT YELLING SOUNDS LIKE. IT’S LOUD.” with all the projection a barrel chest and a bari-tenor can provide. Evidently it was….really really loud. and heard on the floor above. As well as the entire floor.

        I don’t think he ever forgave me and the people who heard had opinions, too. Apparently I startled someone into spilling their coffee, but that might have been exaggeration.

        It’d be funny if it wasn’t mortifying, the crack in self-control there.

        1. CommanderBanana*

          On the flip side of that, I’ve seen people use accusing people of yelling as a weapon (usually men claiming that a woman is “yelling” when she’s really just….talking but not saying what you want her to say / not being sugary sweet / calling you out on your BS).

        2. Enai*

          Sounds like an understandable reaction to me. Perhaps less than professional, but understandable. I bet he put the widget back where it belonged from then on.

      4. Int*

        I’ve recently learned that when my grandfather says that one of my parents “screamed at” him, it means they set a boundary, at a normal volume.

    3. There You Are*

      Two stories:

      Story One: I worked in a big box home improvement store ages ago. We had one customer who liked to return things. A lot. And then get verbally abusive when the Returns Cashier wouldn’t give him cash / full credit for items without a receipt (or even any packaging). Multiple store managers dealt with him and always — ALWAYS — acquiesced to his abuse and gave him full credit for things that he likely either stole, or bought at a discount, or bought elsewhere.

      Then we got a new Assistant Store Manager. One night when I was working the Customer Service Desk, Abusive Customer comes in starts yelling at the Returns Cashier (whose station was about 20-30 feet away from me. New Asst Manager was around a corner behind me and when he poked his head out to see what was going on, I told him it was That Guy again.

      New Asst Manager *ran* through the customer service area and jump-slid over the Returns counter (ala the Dukes of Hazzard hood slide) and stood about 4 inches away from Abusive Customer and said, loudly and firmly, “You will *never* speak to one of my employees like that again. You have two choices here: Produce a receipt or leave my store.”

      Abusive Customer left and never came back. Amazing what can happen when management protects their employees.

      Story Two: Based on that retail experience (and others) I am unfailingly kind and polite to any customer service worker anywhere. If I have to call with a complaint or an issue I always start with, “I’m sorry you’re the one to get my call. I am frustrated / upset / [whatever] and I know it’s not your fault. Please forgive me if my frustration shows in my voice. I really just want X-resolution.”

      And — I’m shocked / not shocked — that I get INFINITELY better results than when I speak to the rep in a condescending or angry tone.

  8. Corrigan*

    I’ve had someone who yelled (at his employees, of which I was one) and it absolutely sucked. It’s not ok and it shouldn’t be tolerated.

  9. UKgreen*

    Yelling is for emergencies. If an environment contains lots of non-emergency day to day telling then legitimate yelling won’t be effective if there’s a genuine use, like a fire, which could lead to a delay in understanding the urgency.

  10. Wait_For_It*

    Maybe I’ve become DEsensitized to yelling because I don’t think I’ve ever worked on a program where there wasn’t SOME. I’m concerned by the LW’s comment: “The interaction barely qualified as yelling, but I was shaking during the rest of that meeting. As soon as it was over, I stress-cried for several minutes, then took a long walk to calm down. Processing that interaction and my feelings around it also triggered my insomnia,” because, frankly that seems like QUITE an overreaction to “barely qualified as yelling,”. I’m not trying to be insensitive (although that’s not going to stop the barrage of “OMG you’re so insensitive replies, I’m sure) and of COURSE, nobody SHOULD YELL at YOU, but people get stressed and raise their voices, which is a little different, and if the LW can’t tolerate that on a video call… I fear for her ability to navigate a complex or high visibility project where people are stressed and demanding and oftentimes impatient.

    1. Jane Bingley*

      I would say you’ve definitely become desensitized in an unhealthy way. This is not normal behaviour, even for a high-stress and highly demanding industry. Workplaces are for adults, and adults should be able to discuss difficult problems without raising voices or visibly expressing anger. Conflict is crucial in these situations, but it needs to be healthy conflict – aggressive, rude, or demeaning conflict actually undermines your ability to do hard work well, and drives great people away to much healthier teams.

      1. Molly*

        plus, he also interrupted and was condescending. and he raised his voice to get the OP to stop talking. all are objectionable!

        1. A Penguin!*

          In this instance I don’t think Orion interrupting was objectionable. He was interrupted first (by OP trying to cut off his monologue). There’s plenty of advice peppered in other letters on this site about how to not let oneself get cut off. He went about it wrong (raising voice and showing anger are both not ok), but insisting on having your contribution heard isn’t in and of itself objectionable.

          1. Lenora Rose*

            There’s a balance point, though; if the monologue is preventing you from *hearing* the very information that renders your monologue unnecessary, it can be essential to cut in. Note that without interrupting, the OP could next get a word in TEN MINUTES later; that’s not one person getting their contribution heard, that’s one person monopolizing everyone’s time well past their fair share.

            There has also been plenty of advice peppered in other letters on this site on how to cut in on someone who won’t stop talking and give other people a chance to speak.

          2. Critical Rolls*

            Insisting on having your (wrong) contribution heard for the fifth time in one meeting without letting others get a word in for ten! minutes! is totally objectionable. I’m sure Orion can rationalize why his voice is the most important and cherry pick non-comparable instances of interruption without assistance.

            1. A Penguin!*

              There’s nothing in the letter that says the contribution was wrong or that it was the fifth time in that meeting. It reads to me that the contribution was actually right – just already known to the OP.

              I will agree that 10 minutes is a long time to monologue for.

              1. There You Are*

                OP: “The sky is blue and we need rain.”

                Orion: “I’ll bet you didn’t know that the sky is blue. I learned this through years of painstaking research and have become quite expert; if only more people knew the sky was blue then we would all get more done here, and done more efficiently. I’m certain you’re all very glad and very grateful that I am sharing my knowledge on the color of the sky with you; it’s a rare opportunity for you all to learn from me and bask in my excellence. I am willing to take time out of my busy da–”

                OP: “Yes, we all know that the sky is blue. Let’s table that and move onto the drought discussi–”

                Orion: “DON’T INTERRUPT ME. I am *trying* to explain to you how the sky works and why a blue sky won’t produce rain! [Goes on for 10 minutes about blue skies never once touching on the actual drought.”

                ^^ That’s… the wrong contribution. “The sky is blue” isn’t factually incorrect but Orion’s contribution regarding it is wrong.

              2. Lenora Rose*

                It doesn’t have to be the fifth time in that meeting, if it’s the fifth time in a week, or two weeks, that the same person explains peoples’ jobs to the people doing it. After you’ve heard it before, you don’t have to hear the same kind of spiel through to the end to know where it’s going.

          3. Jessica*

            Uh, mansplaining to people who are experts in the subject you’re ‘splaining is not a contribution, and people were absolutely right to cut him off.

        2. Courageous cat*

          Am I missing something? Where are y’all getting that he interrupted? He was starting to say something and OP openly admits “I tried to cut in and table the discussion”.

          Sounds like OP is the one who interrupted here, which is not cool.

          1. Courageous cat*

            To add to that, I get why she would want to *try* given the context, but it doesn’t sound like she’s his boss, or has the authority to shut something someone’s saying down unilaterally. So let someone talk for a second and then there’s a number of ways to get in your point without straight up cutting the person off.

          2. Admin Lackey*

            It’s perfectly fine to cut people off in a work setting when they’re monopolizing time. It’s doubly okay to cut someone off in a meeting if they’re going off on a tangent that doesn’t need to be relitigated, which is how I understood the letter. It’s usually better not to interrupt people and it does come across as rude, but that doesn’t mean it was unjustified.

        3. Jackalope*

          Yes, this. The yelling may have been the bit that pushed the OP over the edge, but it wasn’t the only thing going on here. Having a difficult confrontation like that where the other person is giving a) the same information they’ve given multiple times before; b) a hostile reaction of raising their voice when the person trying to table the discussion was working to change the subject; c) a 10 minute monologue (which as has been pointed out, was very disrespectful to the other people on the meeting). The whole situation was stressful, and ongoing for over 10 min. And it was bad enough that everyone else noticed too. That’s a good reason to have a strong reaction.

          1. anon in affordable housing*

            Agreed. That was probably 20-25% of the meeting time spent in an unnecessarily confrontational, frustrating situation with Orion.

      2. TeaCoziesRUs*

        Well said! And concur. I am a yeller (heh, not the dog though) when I am frustrated, and I have and am working on it. However, in the office I wouldn’t do it to anyone who wasn’t my direct manager, who gave me explicit permission to blow off steam, then helped me work through my frustration or accept that X wouldn’t change until the government changed it. If I didn’t have that level of rapport with my direct supervisor, I called my best friend – who has also given me express permission as I have given her, as well. I would NOT yell at our customers… although I would raise my voice – but not yell – to talk over someone trying to explain to me for the 20th time how XYZ worked. Ahh, my 20s… a great time to be a belligerent know-it-all. >.<

    2. BellyButton*

      I know it is hard for people to understand.. I grew up in a very abusive household and any amount of yelling is a physical trigger. Our bodies remember what it was like in the moment when we had no power and we have a very physical response. Fight or Flight kicks in. 20 yrs of therapy and I am better at controlling my physical response, but I still have a response.

      1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

        This. I’ve done a lot to work through my reactions to things that remind me of trauma I encountered as a child, but a response still happens.

        Plus, as someone else pointed out, it wasn’t *just* dude raising his voice. He was interrupting, not listening, and not letting anyone get a word in.

      2. Frieda*

        Yeah, same. Unfortunately my response (Fight!) is to yell back, with increasing precision and detail about the person’s shortcomings. It’s terrible behavior on my part and I don’t want to act that way. It comes up exactly zero with people who are calm and reasonable and professional, however.

        I’ve removed myself from work contexts where a specific person acts in a way that causes me to choose to act badly in response – I don’t deal well with how that person is as a human being, so I cut my losses. (Luckily I have some degree of flexibility in terms of collaborative projects.)

    3. goddess21*

      if you know what the responses are.likely to be, why did you make this comment at all? to stigmatize the op? to declare how special you are? to protect imperiled patriarchal value s?

      1. Green great dragon*

        It’d be a less useful and interesting comment section if people only made comments they think everyone will agree with.

      2. L-squared*

        Because sometimes people need to hear dissenting opinions. This comment board very easily turns into an echo chamber, and now and then its nice for someone to not just join that and take a step back and say “this reaction seems a bit much”

        1. Katrina*

          “A bit much” by whose metric?

          If a person’s behavior causes no harm to others, then it’s nobody’s concern but their own how they process the events that happen to them. Same way their hobbies, habits, diet, romantic interests, and all that good stuff is nobody else’s concern. It’s called being respectful of your fellow humans in the workplace.

          “We should treat people with basic respect” has no place for a dissenting opinion.

          1. Courageous cat*

            An “advice column” absolutely has a place for a dissenting opinion. You’re writing in for people’s opinions and advice.

            1. Jackalope*

              Dissenting opinions are fine. Dissenting opinions about whether we should treat people with basic respect are not. That isn’t an issue that should be up fro debate.

              1. Courageous cat*

                I am not following your train of thought here. No one’s being treated disrespectfully.

                1. Jackalope*

                  The post you were responding to was talking explicitly about how we may have dissenting opinions about some things, but not about treating people with disrespect. Your response appeared to disagree.

            2. bighairnoheart*

              To be fair, most people writing in (including this one, since OP mentioned liking the blog archives) want Alison’s advice specifically. Not to say commenters can’t disagree with Alison, they can obviously, but it’s not like the opinion of each random commenter is going to be equally sought after/valuable to the letter writers.

              1. Courageous cat*

                I don’t disagree with any of that! I’m just saying that if you *do* wander into the comment section (which no one would blame anyone for not doing so), then one can/should expect dissenting opinions.

    4. Lomster*

      I think the response from her coworkers indicates that Orion is a problem though. If her coworkers had blown it off, said “oh, yeah, people get stressed, it wasn’t at you” or similar, that would be an indication that this was simply a stressed person getting a bit frustrated. The fact that a bunch of them agreed that it was over the line and backed her up (and one of them refuses to work with him!) leads me to believe this was more than just work-related stress/voice-raising.

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        This. I’m open to the idea that sometimes folks conflate firm speaking with yelling, and that some folks are just incredibly sensitive to any discussion that isn’t 100% positive, but the fact that all of her co-workers felt he was out of line (and the fact that one person even refuses to deal with him!!!) is a solid indication that Orion needs to be talked with.

        1. Anon for this*

          Yeah, I really feel like there’s more than one question in this post.

          Is yelling acceptable at work? No, unless there’s an emergency.

          Should you tolerate yelling at work? YMMV, especially by industry. I kind of raised my eyebrows at Alison’s comment that workplaces with yelling were significantly less common than those with. All of my last three jobs have had yelling incidents from bosses – proper bellowing that can be heard across the office and stopped people in their tracks yelling. Was it acceptable? No. Do I think these people are flawed, terrible people? No, I just think they were super stressed out and handled it poorly. Would I work with them again? Two of them I would, the third one no but only because the yelling was prompted by a mess of their own making because they let a problem fester for so long that it got out of control – and that, frankly, was a much bigger problem than the yelling. All workplaces also had multiple incidents of people being short and snappy (including, I must confess, from me). Again, not really acceptable but it’s a high stress industry and provided people are otherwise good – as opposed to otherwise jerks – I’m OK with it.

          I also think you are perfectly free to decide that you won’t tolerate that level of yelling. I also, however, have worked with some people for who being told sternly “no” or anything other than being completely on board with their ideas constituted “a dressing down”. These people were, in a lot of ways, more miserable to work with than the yellers. I would be worried for OP if I thought they fell into this category, but I don’t think they do.

          Is Orion’s behaviour out of line? Almost certainly yes! OP may describe it as “barely” yelling but the fact they got full support after doing it and others seem to have similar problems, to the point where one person refuses to work with Orion(!) seems indicative that he’s a problem. FWIW, I think OP handled this particular situation really well but also have serious question marks as to why somebody higher up isn’t shutting this down with Orion.

      2. WellRed*

        Yes I was wondering if he yelled or not but then the rest of the letter made clear, he’s a problem.

    5. Lilac*

      The fact that other coworkers commented on this makes it fairly obvious that this guy was yelling and has been known to yell frequently. The LW sounds absolutely correct in their assessment of the situation.

    6. Agreement*

      I agree. OPs reaction in the moment seems disproportionate to what actually happened and suggest she may need to develop better coping mechanisms. People shouldn’t yell at you, sure, but sometimes people get loud, sometimes people get stern or take on a tone, or they do any number of things that could “barely qualify as yelling” or even just be mistaken as yelling. While it’s good OP set boundaries, I do think she jumped the gun a bit and overreacted in this instance.

      1. Ari*

        Except that all her coworkers agreed he was out of line and that she did right to say something.

        1. L. Bennett*

          Right – and he’s had a history of this to the point that other people refuse to work with him. The one overreacting here is Orion.

        2. TechWorker*

          It’s possible for both things to be true though – that the public reaction was calm and proportionate, and that the private reaction was disproportionate. That’s…. Totally fine though?! It sounds like OP is well aware their private reaction was disproportionate and… did it in private.

      2. Marie*

        There is really no healthy reason to “get loud” in a meeting unless there’s something noisy in the adjacent room that means you NEED to speak louder to hear the other person. “I’m not yelling, I’m raising my voice” is usually code for I’m yelling but I refuse to admit it because my voice can go up by a few more decibels.

        I think a lot of us are Gen X or Millenials were raised by abusive parents who yelled all the time and it shows in some of these comments. Some of us can shrug it off and treat it as a normal way to communicate (it’s not), and some of us carry trauma that can cause reactions like that of the OP.

        1. Agreement*

          But there is also no healthy reason to react to what sounds like a relatively minor incident (based on OPs own description of the event) with shaking, stress crying, and insomnia. OP did well to advocate for herself but would benefit from looking at *why* she had such a big reaction, and possibly reevaluate her coping strategies for in the moment. It is very possible she will encounter similar situations in the future–not always in a work context, and disregarding that in an ideal world she wouldn’t–so having more effective tools to help handle her own reaction can only help.

          1. metadata minion*

            Getting better coping skills is always useful, but that’s not what the LW asked for help with. They asked whether they should expect yelling in the office, possibly to help determine how urgent learning to stay more calm is.

            1. bighairnoheart*

              Agreed. OP strikes me as very self aware and capable of modifying behaviors and coping strategies as needed. They just wanted a check in. OP, if you’re reading any of this, your private reactions are your own. You handled the situation so well in the moment, have a solid plan about how to handle it going forward, and know now that Orien’s behavior is NOT typical. I hope you don’t feel like anything is wrong with you or how you handled this.

              1. Lyra (OP)*

                One of the things I reflected on when I was thinking this over is that it has been *at least* five years since I’ve been in a situation where someone was this aggressive and frustrated with me. And this is at three different jobs, with a few different long term partners, a few volunteer groups, friends, family… I have not found yelling to be common. So if I do focus on my own strategies, it would purely be so I could keep interacting in the workplace.

          2. Martin Blackwood*

            Could you give an example of what coping skills would be better utilized? OP wasn’t bottling up their emotions, and taking a walk to calm down from strong emotions is…a good coping mechanism! I have started shaking a bit from intense emotions (not yelling, but customer with the worst attitude and refusing to work with me to find a solution, it was so intense at the time and I have no idea how), that’s not something you turn off other than calming down! And I feel like insomnia is a vaguer beast to tackle, but because if OP can point to this incident as a what definitely triggered, then I think they have their insomnia controlled pretty well! Like, is OP perfect at handling stress, no,v but like, let he who has not sinned throw the first stone, and what not

          3. anon in affordable housing*

            OP has a disability that makes her more susceptible to physical manifestations of stress.

    7. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

      I’m sorry you work in an environment like that. I often navigate complex or high visibility projects where people are stressed and demanding and oftentimes impatient, and I’ve never been yelled at.

    8. GC*

      I find it odd that you cut the quote from the letter right before OP mentions they’re autistic, and they believe that may explain their strong sensitivity to yelling. It sounds like OP is already self aware that this may not be the reaction everyone has to the situation.

      1. But what to call me?*

        Ooh, they did cut it off there, didn’t they. Autism and other forms of neurodiversity do often influence how a person reacts to emotional situations, sometimes in ways that are convenient for work and sometimes in ways that are not (also autistic, and I’ve experienced both). OP does seem to be aware that their reaction was stronger than most people’s, so there’s a good chance they’re already doing what they can about it, just to be able to deal with yelling when it happens in the world, but there’s only so much you can do about your neurology. Coping with being yelled at usually isn’t such an essential job requirement that struggling with it would prevent them from successfully navigating their job, because most people manage work stress just fine without yelling at their coworkers.

        1. But what to call me?*

          Oh, and on the topic of “barely qualified as yelling” – honestly, that reads to me like OP might actually be downplaying Orion’s behavior, in the way that people who are always told they’re overreacting sometimes do. Like ‘yes, I know what happened wasn’t really all that bad, and probably I should just put up with it like a normal person would, but is it maybe okay for me to be a little bit bothered by this thing that I promise promise promise I know wasn’t really a big deal?’

          But even if that’s not the case, barely yelling is still yelling and therefore not acceptable at work.

          1. NeutralJanet*

            Interesting how you think that the letter writer is wrong about what happened, when you weren’t there! Shouldn’t we take letter writers at their word and assume that they are the experts on their own situations?

          2. Lyra (OP)*

            It is so interesting to read the different interpretations of what I mean by “barely yelling”! I do know that when he yelled (or “yelled”) my brain immediately said “nope nope nope nope nope” and his volume was raised enough that it’s what I addressed. Afterwards, both my coworkers referred to it as yelling without me defining it that way. And I *absolutely* downplay things in exactly that way.

            1. anon in affordable housing*

              Are you trying to convey that he wasn’t necessarily super loud but he was definitely hostile/aggressive/intense?

              1. Lyra (OP)*

                Yes. Voice was absolutely raised, but it wasn’t intense because of the volume.

                1. Observer*

                  I think that your coworkers calling it yelling is very telling. Because the hostility and intensity are the thing that a LOT of people will feel more than the volume, even though they address the volume.

      2. Modesty Poncho*

        Yes, also autistic and over-reactions to stimuli that wouldn’t bother other people was the primary symptom that finally got me diagnosed.

    9. Sedna*

      Unfortunately, I think you may have been a little desensitized. I react terribly to yelling and would have a very similar reaction to OP. Which is why I work in an office on complex medical projects where people can handle high stress situations without yelling at each other! Unless someone is actively dying in front of us, you don’t need to scream.

    10. Qwerty*

      If it hasn’t happend to you, then it is easy to underestimate the impact. I’ve been yelled at a lot (male industry) and my strongest reaction was to the mildest of the incidents

      1. Video call = Yelling is in her apartment

      I’ve been yelled at in lots of meetings, and the ones where I had the strongest reaction to all happened when I was working remotely. It is no longer just someone yelling in a meeting – someone has come into my own home, my safe haven, and is yelling at me / making me feel unsafe.

      If this had happened when everyone was in-office, OP probably would have received all that support from her lead and teammates right after the meeting. Dealing with it all on our own means spending a lot more time living in our heads

      2. You feel trapped
      Part of the psychology effect is that in the moment, you feel trapped and can’t leave, which makes the yelling worse and you feel more stressed and scared. The fight or flight response is being triggered but without an good option for release. Adrenaline and all the other stress hormones surge – crying is just the body’s way of releasing excess emotions.

      3. You obsess over the incident
      Insomnia was probably caused by OP running through the incident repeatedly in her head, wondering what she could have done to avoid triggering it, how to have handled it differently, wondering if she is cut out for this work, feeling like there is no one who resolve the Orion issue.

      4. You feel like a kid again
      Something about a coworker yelling at you like a child makes you feel like a child, so all the emotional baggage of our youth comes rushing out of the floodgates. The first time that happnes, it is overwhelming! Complicated feelings like feeling small and worthless since everyone just sat there and did nothing while this guy yelled at you compound the feelings.

      I fear for her ability to navigate a complex or high visibility project where people are stressed and demanding and oftentimes impatient.
      It is not hard to avoid yelling during these types of projects. I have worked on many of them and yelling was always deemed unacceptable. If someone started raising their voice, they’d get one warning to use their inside voice before being muted or booted from the meeting to go calm down.

      1. Lyra (OP)*

        Yes to so much of this. I don’t have the data to tell whether #1 is also true for me, but the rest labels me quite well.

    11. But what to call me?*

      This may be industry or office dependent, because honestly, a coworker actually yelling would be so surprising in any of the places I’ve worked in (including those that were rather toxic in other ways) that I think my internal reactions, at least, would be pretty similar to OP’s – I would *not* be prepared to filter out that level of hostility (and it would read as *very* hostile, especially in the middle of a 10 minute argument).

      It would make sense for OP to either self-select out of industries where yelling is the norm or find a way to recontextualize the yelling into something less hostile that doesn’t activate All The Adrenaline, but being able to let yelling flow off if you like water is by no means an essential skill for functioning in most jobs.

    12. Myrin*

      I agree on principle with the broader point you’re making (easy for me to say, though, since I’m incredibly not sensitive to yelling and my language doesn’t even have a word for it, we only have one for “shouting/screaming” which as I understand it are actually more forceful/loud?) but I actually think you might be barking up the wrong tree here.

      I actually read the “barely qualified as yelling” part as OP doing that justifying thing people do, where they’re like “oh, I’m sure it wasn’t that bad” when actually, it was that bad (or possibly even worse). I’m concluding that from the reactions of literally everyone else in the letter, all agreeing with OP and leaving the meeting with the same impression.

    13. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      LW managed her emotions so that they weren’t someone else’s problem. Brett Kavanaugh I mean, Orion, did not manage his emotions so successfully. Your “fear for her” seems really misplaced (and ableist) to me.

    14. L-squared*

      Right. The fact that they both acknowledge it was barely yelling, and had that reaction seems like a lot.

    15. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      Disabled person takes steps to fix a problem everyone is having, gets criticized for it.

    16. Observer*

      Maybe I’ve become DEsensitized to yelling

      No maybe. And in a very unhealthy way.

      but people get stressed and raise their voices,

      Not as a routine matter, they don’t. Not in reasonably healthy work environments, at least.

      I fear for her ability to navigate a complex or high visibility project where people are stressed and demanding and oftentimes impatient.

      Being stressed is not a license to yell at people. And there is a difference between being impatient and demanding, although high stress projects are not an excuse to be rude or unreasonable either.

      I’ve been in many high stress project in my work life. Yelling has never been part of the equation.

      I fear for YOUR ability to lead a high stress project in a healthy way.

    17. L. Bennett*

      OP overreacted but the coworker who was yelling in a meeting was not?

      As others have mentioned, people have different backgrounds and handle yelling differently. Many people have come from abusive households and their bodies immediately go into flight or fight. Many women have the same reaction when a man is yelling because that often means DANGER.

      I was walking down the street the other day and was verbally accosted by a stranger and had much the same reaction as the OP — I stress cried, and felt unsafe walking around my neighborhood for nearly a week. I also grew up in an emotionally abusive household. My reaction was my reaction based on my past and my own individual sensitivity and wasn’t “wrong”. What’s “wrong” is being expected to be yelled at at all.

    18. Critical Rolls*

      Or maybe LW is just having a pretty typical reaction to an unexpected confrontation (that they handled very well in the moment, and subsequently got a lot of confirmation that Orion’s behavior was over the line). I’m not particularly conflict averse, but I still get physical reactions sometimes, especially if its something that comes out of left field in a context where I was not on guard. This doesn’t seem unusual or extreme to me.

      1. Courageous cat*

        And that’s all fine, but I wouldn’t necessarily say losing sleep, crying, and shaking is a “pretty typical reaction” to someone raising their voice when they got interrupted. These are things that may be worth visiting with a professional.

        1. bighairnoheart*

          I know you’re not talking about the OP here, since they themselves said they assume their autism was feeding into their reaction, but even if a neurotypical person has one strong reaction to an unexpected instance of workplace yelling (which most of their coworkers also agreed was A Lot), I think we don’t have to pathologize that. There’s a wide range of “typical reactions” to things like this. You wouldn’t cry or lose sleep. Others might. Nothing wrong with therapy of course, but if a friend told me this story, I wouldn’t tell them they needed to seek help for their reaction.

        2. Sunshine Gremlin*

          OP self-identified as being autistic. It sounds like they’re already handling their own mental health with a professional.

          I’m concerned that you’re taking issue with someone that isn’t neurotypical not having a typical reaction to a situation. This reads a lot like policing OP’s reaction when Orion was the one that was acting unprofessionally and honestly, kind of unhinged. It isn’t healthy, professional, or “typical” to wax on in an emotional monologue for 10 minutes, but you didn’t suggest Orion should work on that with a professional, which is interesting.

        3. Critical Rolls*

          OP seems to have excellent self awareness and is not in need of “seek professional help because you’re different from me” advice. Probably no one else is in the market for that either.

    19. Lenora Rose*

      Note, though, that all their reaction was processed elsewhere, where it didn’t affect everyone. it may be an atypically strong response but it didn’t actually harm the workplace at all. Where Orion’s reaction was in front of everyone and bothered several other people.

      1. Lyra (OP)*

        Yes. Like, I put a lot of energy into making sure my emotions don’t become everyone else’s problem at work. Perhaps I over-do it, but Orion seems to… under-do it.

    20. justpeachy86*

      I think this is a situation where the OP is right to speak up for themselves, as evidenced by support from coworkers and the apology… And also deserve to do some self work on how they respond. A stressful call, with one person who was a little out of line, shouldn’t lead to a spiral with tears and insomnia.

      1. anon in affordable housing*

        Wow, way to minimize how absolutely Not Cool Orion’s behavior was.

        He was a lot out of line when you look at everything, and basically dominated about 1/4 of the meeting time soapboxing and being overly intense at everyone else in that meeting.

        Why is OP expected to fix her neurology for her away-from-work reactions but we should accept Orion basically having a man-tantrum at a group of his coworkers?

    21. Fuel Injector*

      I sort of agree with you in the general sense on some parts, but for Orion specifically, I agree with OP. Since several people have said they don’t care for the way Orion interacts, OP seems to have read the room on that one correctly even if they are second-guessing their reaction.

      I agree that sometimes people get stressed and are not their best selves, and in those circumstances, we can help the situation by being our best selves–that is, remaining calm ourselves, managing our emotions in the moment, giving the other person grace bc who has not lost their cool and don’t you want grace when you are that person?

      However, if our response is such that after keeping our cool in the moment, we need some time after to cry-walk, then we deserve the time to so. Needing time to recover after being in the presence of someone losing their cool is also part of being human.

    22. Jessica*

      Speaking as someone who worked in an abusive industry for a decade and a half and thought getting yelled at at work was normal: I think you’re desensitized in what is probably an unhealthy way. If you think it’s not affecting you negatively, it’s quite likely affecting you physically in a way you’re not aware of or attributing to something other than stress.

    23. Marie*

      I grew up in an abusive household where there was a lot of yelling, and people “raising their voices” (which is pretty much always code for yelling just not at the top of their lungs yelling) is enough to send me into a regressive state where before therapy I would be rocking back and forth trying to soothe myself. That being said, I’ve worked on plenty of stressful projects where there was never any yelling or raised voices. If you deal with it regularly, you probably are in a toxic industry.

      Does OP have to figure out how to navigate her triggers in a healthy way so she can make her way through the world and deal with stressful situations? Yes. But at the same time it’s unacceptable for that level of toxic behavior to exist in an office and should be nipped in the bud right away when displayed by a coworker, no matter how essential they are.

      More on the raised voices – “I’m not yelling, I’m just raising my voice” belongs on an abuser’s bingo card. There is no situation where you should be getting aggressive with a coworker. And yes, raising your voice is aggressive. It’s a way to show dominance and induce fear into the other party.

    24. Courageous cat*

      Yeah… and like, OP is the one who openly admits to interrupting him, and that’s what caused it? I wouldn’t be hugely surprised if someone briefly raised their voice at me either if I tried to cut them off like that, especially if they were raising the volume to talk over my interruption.

      This is a LOT tbh.

      1. Courageous cat*

        And I clarified elsewhere but I want to clarify here too: it would be one thing if she was Orion’s boss, but she says coworker. If you’re the boss, sure, step in and unilaterally shut down the conversation. But if you’re the peer and you’re cutting off someone while talking, you’re still being a little rude, and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if someone was a little rude back.

        1. L. Bennett*

          He yelled for 10 minutes… that’s not “a little rude”. Also other people have had issues with this dude yelling before to the point that they refuse to work with him and clearly had an issue with it in this instance. Orion was not in the right here, whether he was interrupted or not.

          1. Courageous cat*

            There is zero indication he yelled for 10 minutes, and OP said herself that the interaction “barely qualified as yelling”. She said he raised his voice and insisted on talking first (because she interrupted him), and then continued to talk.

            He wasn’t yelling the whole lecture, he was raising his voice at her specifically for cutting in, and then continuing on with what he was saying. It seemed pretty clearly written to me.

            1. Observer*

              “Zero indication” except that the OP explicitly says that it was 10 minutes.

              You are making things up in order to justify misbehavior. Why?

              1. Courageous cat*

                Lol what? He continued his lecture (“continued to llamasplain) for 10 minutes. Nothing suggests he was yelling the whole time he did so. From what I can tell, he only raised his voice at the beginning to ask her to allow him to continue to speak.

                Even by OP’s own admission, he barely yelled. And even called said yelling an “interaction”. No one would say that about someone who yelled their lecture at a group for 10 straight minutes lol

        2. bighairnoheart*

          Wait, so the sequence of events was that OP interrupted Orien (I know you say it’s rude for peers to do this, but at my office, this would actually be fine in a lot of situations), he raised his voice for an indeterminant amount of time and went on a 10 minute monologue in response, and OP waited for that whole 10 minutes for him to finish before calmly asking him not to raise his voice again. He apologized for that, twice, suggesting even he agreed his behavior warranted an apology. Several other people, including the OP’s team lead who witnessed the whole thing, supported what OP did and how they acted, and confirmed that Orion has consistently been difficult to work with.

          Obviously we weren’t there, and can’t say for sure what the nuances were to the whole situation, and I suppose it’s possible the whole office is full of bees so we can’t trust anyone’s judgement of Orion, but even with those cavates, I just can’t agree with your assessment that the two main players in this situation were just being “a little rude” and “a little rude back.”

          You’re being very generous to Orien while looking at OP’s behavior very uncharitably, and I’m not sure why.

          1. Courageous cat*

            I don’t know where you guys are repeatedly getting that he went on a 10-minute yelling spree at/about OP, lol. What I get from this is that he raised his voice at her briefly about how he was going to continue talking, and then continued in a more normal manner what he was saying prior to the interruption.

            As she said, it was literally “an interaction that barely even qualified as yelling” – that certainly doesn’t make it sound like he went on a 10 minute aggressive temper tantrum to me.

            My purpose here isn’t to be ~uncharitable~ (but I also despise this notion, full disclosure), it’s to try to be unbiased and see it from all angles.

            1. mondaysamiright*

              I’m not saying he went on a 10-min yelling spree. That’s why I wrote “indeterminant amount of time,” because we don’t know how long he was loud while talking. You clearly think it was briefly, others clearly think it was most of that time. We don’t know. Thus, indeterminant.

              We DO know he spoke for 10 minutes after that before OP could get a word in edge wise at all. And OP also says that he “frequently derails meetings by re-explaining things we understand and telling us we’re wrong.” Even if he was the calmest person in the entire room for 9 minutes and 55 seconds of that, it’s still a lot. And people who dominate conversations and repeat themselves should expect to get interrupted in meetings every now and again because the alternative is more outrageously long meetings (a pet peeve of mine, I’ll admit, but one I think most people also dislike).

            2. mondaysamiright*

              Oh, I also just changed my username, but I’m the person above you responded to. Sorry to be confusing!

    25. Kella*

      The thing that makes yelling a problem is what it’s being used to accomplish– control or provoke a specific behavior in the people nearby. That’s why it’s acceptable to use yelling in a situation where safety is at risk, because provoking people to recognize they are in danger is exactly the purpose.

      Yelling here was being used to not only control the focus of the meeting but to ensure that Orion continued dominating the discussion, not allowing for external input or collaboration to actually solve the problem. This kind of dominating while avoiding productive discussion is usually used to make the other participants uncomfortable, as a sort of punishment for whatever the problem was. The increased volume adds to the discomfort, especially for OP who is autistic, and whose nervous system was likely lit up by the sound.

      Ultimately, OP is not just reacting to someone raising their voice, but to someone attempting to control her, undermine her contributions to the conversation, and make her suffer for not having already fixed the problem. (All of this is unconscious but it’s still what’s happening.) It’s entirely appropriate to feel rattled by that, and we know for a fact that she wasn’t the only one. Being upset by behavior like that is one of the ways we know a boundary has been crossed and that the person yelling needs to be told to stop. It was only because OP *listened* to her own reaction that a boundary was set. Everyone else who tolerated the discomfort let the problem behavior continue.

    26. Lyra (OP)*

      Some of the commenters have made these points, but I would say:
      1) I don’t argue that my reaction to yelling is normal. That’s part of why I wrote in – is this a “me problem” or is this a “him problem”? But if yelling is something that’s common in a workplace I would likely need accommodations of some sort (even if I also work on coping strategies).
      2) The volume wasn’t super raised, but the frustration and aggression were quite strong. And really confusing! Nothing about this was high pressure, complex, or high visibility – this was a pretty routine issue about communication between teams.
      3) Everybody else working on our high priority projects seems to approach things collaboratively and, if frustrated, avoid taking it out on people.

      1. Ari*

        I hosted a meeting recently where two attendees got into a very heated discussion—not loud yelling but raised voices, obvious frustration/anger, and an animosity that was inexplicable to me, as the meeting had literally just started. I was finally able to interject and calm things down, but I was slightly shaken for a couple of days. I assume they have previous issues that I’m unaware of, but it was jarring to witness such unprofessional behavior from two grown men. If it had been directed AT me? I probably would have cried later as well and had trouble sleeping, trying to understand what I did wrong.

      2. Sedna*

        I think it’s definitely a him problem! I have been in the workforce for…oh my god, over 20 years and I can count on one hand the times I’ve seen yelling /at/ someone happen. People disagree often where I work, sometimes strongly, but this kind of direct conflict is incredibly rare.
        FWIW, I am allistic but very sensitive to conflict to the extent that I started quietly crying when witnessing a shouting match between my boss and a coworker at the beginning of my career. I’ve done some work personally to better manage my reactions and discomfort around conflict, but knowing I don’t have to tolerate being yelled at & that it is not at all a normal occurrence has really helped me manage my emotions as well.

  11. Sauce on the side*

    In my current role, my manager yelled and screamed at me repeatedly during my first week. It was a sign of things to come at this organization. Yelling/screaming/cursing/disrespect is deeply imbedded into the culture here.

    I have been actively trying to escape this place ever since. Looking back, I so wish I had cut my losses the first week and stood up for myself and left the job. Take it from me – no job or paycheck is worth being treated like garbage.

  12. Also Spectrum*

    It sounds like you did a really good job shutting this down while remaining professional! And yeah, trying to person all the time around neurotypicals is so exhausting! I hope you pat yourself on the back for some excellently executed person-ing.

  13. Green great dragon*

    I agree with everyone else on the yelling (and that LW handled it awesomely) but also – this guy gets to hold a meeting hostage for 10 mins while he lectures people on stuff they know? Feels like Andromeda (and/or the meeting chair if that was not LW) could have done a lot more in the meeting itself, about that and the voice-raising.

  14. President Porpoise*

    I have yelled in the office exactly once: while on the phone with someone driving to commit a felony, I engaged in a very heated discussion to try to get them to not commit that felony. I failed, but was able to get someone else at his destination to stop him instead.

    I’d do it again, but that’s the bar that I think is pretty acceptable.

      1. President Porpoise*

        The boring answer is that an engineer was frustrated an impatient that it was taking a really long time for his programmatically-essential goods to clear customs (PSA- customs clearance can take quite a while, especially if you’re moving specialized goods). The exciting answer is smuggling sensitive missile technology.

        1. ScruffyInternHerder*

          This is….nowhere near as fun as I expected, and nowhere near as un-likely to happen as I’d expect! I live near an international border, and yeah, customs clearance can be an absolute bugger!!!

    1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      I’d love to know what your job is that you have to speak to someone on the way to commit a felony.

    2. Observer*

      Yeah, I think that qualifies as an acceptable reason to yell.

      But you can’t leave us hanging!

  15. Qwerty*

    OP, your lead really needs to shut down the yelling when it happens. If she’s the owner of the meeting, she has the option to mute Orion when he starts raising his voice or telling him to leave the meeting.

    When you talk to her, also include letting her know that in the future you will just exit the meeting if someone yells at you. You do not need to stick around and be yelled at. I think part of the stress response comes from feeling trapped, and feeling empowered to disconnect from the call or just walk out of the conference room will make you feel a lot better. At that point, you get to decide when you’ve had enough and nope out of there

    1. BellyButton*

      One my best drop the mic moments was when an executive was yelling, with spittle flying, at someone else in the room. I tried to cut in and he said “this doesn’t concern you.” I grabbed my laptop and started for the door. His mouth dropped open and he asked where I was going. I said “I won’t stand by and watch you yell and berate someone. I am headed to HR and the CEO’s office.”
      A few other people stood up and followed me, but sadly so many people think this sort of thing is just something you have to tolerate.

    2. Willow Pillow*

      Also autistic – OP, I am the same way and I’ve had the same reaction to being yelled at. It’s super frustrating that my group is stigmatized for things that the other group is actually doing – autistic = emotional disregulation, yet we’re forced to try and maintain such while someone treats us abusively who isn’t emotionally regulating themselves. There’s also stigma against women and crying as emotional, while yelling is much less often seen that way.

      I do think that an exit strategy like Qwerty is suggesting is a good plan… but I also want to caution you to be careful doing so. I attempted this at a former job, and even as I did the exact same thing that my boss agreed upon (physically leaving a negative situation, in my case constant gossip), I was severely reprimanded by her. This doesn’t mean it won’t work for you, OP… just think out what you would do if it gets used against you.

      1. Lyra (OP)*

        Yeah. I put so much energy into regulating my emotions, that it hits extra hard when I’m set off by someone not regulating theirs. I am reasonably sure that I have support for exit strategies! I’m sorry that you got reprimanded for doing something you had an agreement on… that is super rough.

        1. Willow Pillow*

          I ended up going on short term disability leave for two months during their busy season, and got another job offer two months after that… They decided to pay out my month’s notice plus they flat-out lied about not working one’s notice period being standard. I was content enough to accept their cowardice as validation!

  16. Maglev No Longer to Crazytown*

    Did you take my old job? I had a workplace like this, where a few upper level managers (men) were allowed to get away with outright screaming and bullying of lowerlings (just the women, strangely enough). I was told to just let it go, not try to correct it, and that “just how he always had been.”

    His screaming was always accepted, but I got fired when I accidentally raised my voice to tell him to stop it, after his screaming was combined with physically lunging at me like he was going to hit me in the face. While I should have never raised my voice, it was in a purely instinctive “Don’t hurt me!” way.

    I didn’t get fired for a few more weeks (and then was told it was just “culture fit”)… and I laughed in relief while be escorted out. It truly started affecting my mental health from early on in realizing the workplace I was in. This is NOT normal or acceptable anywhere. Unfortunately, too many workplaces bolster such individuals and accept their poor behavior.

    1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      I actually think “someone lunging at you” is on the short list of when yelling is ok.

      1. Maglev No Longer to Crazytown*

        I was not proud of it, but I thought so to. it really messes with your mind when the aggressor is just patted on the head, and you get fired. Thankfully, I am in a much better workplace now with actual sane friendly coworkers. Unemployment was still less stressful than going to that horrid place everyday.

  17. ENFP in Texas*

    As a side note, I’ve started following a shearer on Facebook who shears llamas, alpacas, and sheep… so they ARE out there!

    1. KayDeeAye*

      I know people who shear llamas, alpacas and sheep. None of them follow AAM, as far as I know, but I’d love to find out. :-)

  18. Too Many Llamas*

    The llama grooming analogies are getting torturous to the point of absurdity.

      1. TeaCoziesRUs*

        I blame this site for the padded envelopes I recently ordered for my ebay business. They might or might not have llamas dressed for a full on party.

    1. My Useless 2 Cents*

      I love the idea of dressing llamas. What popped into my head was a llama in top hat and tails with a monocle (like monopoly guy). Made me smile :)

    2. Robin*

      Agreed–at the beginning they were fun, but at this point it makes the question a little more difficult to follow. I don’t really understand why we can’t just use the broad descriptions of our actual jobs and industries. They’re not really traceable back to anyone unless you’re really specific, and often knowing the actual industry or job helps with advice.

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        Agreed. It’s needlessly cutesy and confusing and I think can obscure the actual issues at hand. There’s a significant difference in workplace norms between a white-shoe law firm and a tech startup and a small accountant shop, and knowing the bare-bones basics of the role can influence the situation and the advice.

    3. Fiona*

      Thank you. It made sense when Alison used them in her examples to generalize advice – but when letter writers use them it becomes completely garbled and nonsensical. Just say you’re a data analyst or a teacher or a graphic designer, it’s fine.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I remove them from a lot of letters for that reason, but I found them amusing in this one so left them in.

        We’re starting to derail though, so I’m closing this thread.

    4. Lenora Rose*

      I still mostly enjoy all the llamas, teapots, and chocolate teapots, even when I know that most of the teapot analogies don’t really work the way ceramics crafting, even industrially, works. It’s true that sometimes it distracts from the letter, but more often it entertains. If the job or job culture in question needs to be a bit more specific to get workable advice (academia, certain kinds of finance), that letter writer can be that specific.

  19. Angstrom*

    “No yelling” is definitely office-specific. There are are plenty of workplaces where ambient noise or distance make yelling necessary.
    Still, there’s a big difference between “yell to” and “yell at.”

    1. Ally*

      Yes exactly. I have the same opinion of swearing – there is a huge difference between “swearing around” and “swearing at” a person.

    2. Observer*

      Removed — speaking of yelling, please do not post comments with all caps, which most people read as yelling. Thank you. – Alison

    3. Lenora Rose*

      I think most folks can distinguish “If I don’t raise my voice, you won’t hear me over the large machine running next to you” from the kind of yelling in a meeting.

    4. Courageous cat*

      I will also say it’s culture-specific. There are some cultures in which heated/raised voice exchanges are not abnormal or considered rude. Outright screaming, I’m sure is different – but that doesn’t appear to be what was described here.

  20. Allornone*

    The only time I’ve been yelled at work was back when I was still working retail and would bear the brunt of customers’ misplaced ire on a regular basis. But I’ve never worked anywhere that had employees/managers yelling. Now that I’m in the nonprofit sector, I cannot imagine anyone raising their voice in any organization I’ve ever worked at, especially the one I”m at now. Sometimes messages are delivered with a serious tone, but no yelling. After reading some of these responses, I’m amazed that maybe I’ve just been lucky. Thank goodness. I come from a family of angry yellers and I don’t think that kind of vibe in my work life.

  21. Richard Hershberger*

    ” let’s say we’re llama groomers (we’re not)”

    Just once I would like to see a letter from an actual llama groomer, or at least someone involved in llama-related goods and services.

    Oh, and what Alison said, about the yelling.

    1. Sparkles McFadden*

      Maybe actual llama groomers are writing in saying “I work at a non-profit” to remain anonymous. (…and the teapot makers say they work in IT)

    2. Kwebbel*

      This is exactly what I was thinking. I was thinking of trying to find a llama groomer and suggesting they write to Alison saying they could do an interview for the site. I would love to know what their day-to-day work consists of.

    3. Zelda*

      1) Well done LW, for setting the boundary in the moment.
      2) Top marks for the name set.
      3) “llamasplain” I am ded.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I hereby declare that I shall forever after this day use the term llamasplain instead of mansplain so as not to offend the delicate mansplainers.

    4. Indisch blau*

      I came here to say this too. Alison, please put out a call asking for llama groomers and teapot makers (and designers!) to interview.

      1. Phoenix Wright*

        “I’m a professional splines reticulator, and my coworkers keep pissing on the floor and setting the kitchen on fire. What’s worse, all the employee handbooks are written in Simlish and I can’t read them.”

    5. Somewhere in Texas*

      I showed alpacas in high school… like in costumes and everything. If you ever need a bit of joy, look up llama or alpaca costume contests.

      It was a volunteer thing and we didn’t work there, so no reason to write into AAM. :)

        1. MidWasabiPeas*

          Nesting fail…this was to Somewhere in Texas about the llama and alpaca costume contests. :-) :-) :-) :-)

  22. My Useless 2 Cents*

    I’d be annoyed at the yelling but the mansplaining would really set me off. I’m curious if the yelling/mansplaining is only at fellow women. If so that would be another very serious conversation that needs to be had with CEO.

    1. Lyra (OP)*

      Orion definitely ‘splains to every gender. I suspect it is worse with women, but I’m actually unsure.

  23. Be Gneiss*

    At ExJob, yelling was so common that I stopped even registering it. Two of the big bosses were know for red-faced, splittle-flying yelling. The whole culture was that if yelling bothered you, you weren’t cut out to work there.
    I didn’t realize how much it had bothered me until I was at new job for a while. I was working with someone in a noisy area, wearing hearing protection, so…I’m going to call that an appropriate kind of yelling. I realized in the moment that NOBODY had yelled at me in months, and I was so overwhelmed by how different it felt to be in a place without yelling that I literally went to my car and cried with relief.

    Yelling isn’t okay.

    1. Anna Badger*

      I also went from a commonplace-yelling environment to one where it happened very rarely. the first time I heard yelling in the new office (between two usually very level headed senior people at an usually tense moment, behind a closed door that happened to be in front of my desk) I was many months in, and I had much the same reaction.

  24. Anon for this*

    I had a collaborator yell at me in a meeting — he’s very well-respected in our field. He yelled at me and told me (while yelling) that this was just valid feedback because my questions were so stupid that I was unprepared. My other collaborator on the call was crying by the time we hung up. It really got in my head that I wasn’t working hard enough or wasn’t good enough, even though he wasn’t my advisor nor my boss, and many other well-respected collaborators of mine never reflected similar feedback.

    It all happened during the depths of the Covid lockdown as well. This instance (+ other awful meetings that followed) had a profound effect on my mental health, and led me to go into therapy. I had to investigate significant time and resources into getting myself back to a healthy self esteem.

    He’s known in our field as been big into diversity & inclusion, and everyone loves him because he’s friendly when he needs to be. I still cringe when people talk about how great he is.

    It’s never okay, and it really affects people.

  25. NeedRain47*

    Yelling AT someone out of anger is never okay.

    A little tolerance for personal volume difference is good. I get louder when I get worked up about things, be it good or bad, and I’m not the only person who’s like this.

    1. Sarcasm required*

      I’ve recently been told that it is unacceptable to get worked up at all in the workplace. no raised voice, no sarcasm, no cool distance if someone is misbehaving.

      I reflected on that, then left.

  26. Sara without an H*

    Somewhere there is a missing manager. We have one team lead (Cassiopeia) who flat out refuses to work with Orion and the LW’s team lead, Andromeda. Who is managing Orion? Or not?

    I know this is a small startup, but it sounds as though the reporting structure is so flat that nobody except the CEO has any authority. If that’s the case, then yes, I do think LW needs to talk with the CEO, especially since he already has the time scheduled. I would also recommend that Andromeda, Cassiopeia, and any other team leads whose staff have been affected by Orion’s antics, also make time with the CEO. Anybody whose behavior is such that colleagues are refusing to work with them needs to be reined in ASAP. This group is too small to allow his behavior to continue.

    1. Lyra (OP)*

      The CEO or CTO is managing Orion, and they’ve been so busy lately that I would be surprised if they were really managing him at all. The structure is absolutely too flat… growing pains.

  27. pally*

    I’m at a start-up. And we have someone who yells.
    Yes, it is wrong.
    In my situation, management is afraid of losing this person. They greatly value his skills. So they make excuses for his behavior when someone complains about being yelled at. This has gone on for years.

    If your management isn’t beholden to Orion, there’s a good chance management can shut down this behavior. In fact, they are the ones who must put a stop to this.

    Also, management needs to make it clear that you all can, in the moment, say something, log off, walk away, immediately end the meeting, whatever it takes to get away from the yelling. No consequences for doing so. Then report incident to management. Orion must learn that yelling not only doesn’t get him what he wants (control), it will actively prevent things from getting done.

  28. Pom Mom*

    Apparently I’m the only one concerned that the imaginary llamas are not being properly groomed. And yes, yelling bad. Off to brush some fluffy doggies.

  29. bighairnoheart*

    OP, just wanted to say that your writing is fantastic: “For the sake of anonymity, let’s say we’re llama groomers (we’re not),” the space-themed names, “Llamasplain,” and the little llama outfits (!) were all delightful.

    I was also really struck by the phrase, “I typically avoid people who need to yell,” because you highlighted something interesting here. Yellers feel like they *need* to yell to be heard. It’s not about you, it’s about them. Important to remember.

    Wishing you luck with this situation!

    1. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Somewhere back in the days of toddlers in my house, I recall reading that toddler to preschool aged children will sometimes add volume to a request/demand because their brains interpret “no” to mean “they didn’t hear me. Maybe if I say it louder….”

      I vaguely recall as a preschooler having this internal dialogue about something that I *needed* my Dad to do, but he saw as a request.

      I grew out of that. But boy, it seems to fit for a lot of “yellers” that I’ve met in the workplace over the years.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Whoa, you’ve just blown my mind. Now I’m going to think of all the yellers I know (not many; I like the OP avoid them as much as possible) as oversized toddlers.

    2. Lyra (OP)*

      Thanks for your kindness! <3

      And that was carefully phrased! I know I have some people in my life who will have heated arguments and (sometimes) yell, but they don't do so with me. So they don't *need* to.

  30. MuseumChick*

    No amount of yelling is acceptable. It does happen, but at MOST it should be very rare and limited to extreme circumstances. This reminds me of the recently letter about the team member who cries a lot. We are human and out emotions don’t just turn off at work, but we do have to control how we respond to and represent those emotions.

  31. Michelle Smith*

    Alison is 100% correct. People do yell in offices, but that doesn’t make that behavior acceptable or appropriate and you should not feel like there is an amount you have to tolerate. The correct amount of yelling at work is 0 yelling, except in perhaps an extreme emergency circumstance like Alison identified (i.e., there is a serious danger that you need to be alerted to immediately, such as a fire on your pants or a giant scorpion in the corner that’s about to strike you). It should not require you requesting accommodations or disclosing autism or any health conditions (like PTSD). It’s not something anyone, with any degree of sensitivity to yelling, should have to deal with at work.

  32. Observer*

    Alison’s advice is good.

    I agree that outside of a genuine emergency, there is no good reason to yell at people. Having said that if it happens OCCASIONALLY, I’m not going to call it abusive because even reasonable people sometimes lose their cool in not great ways.

    But I *do* mean OCCASIONAL. Like once every couple of years.

    And that is what is really the glaring problem here. Someone lost his temper and people are “What was that all about?” is one thing, because that would indicate that it’s surprising to them because it’s not typical. But “He’s always been that way”; a *manager* needs to hang up on him because he’s so aggressive; and someone actually refuses to work with him (and is supported by the rest of the staff)? That is appalling! And it’s thoroughly untypical. Even an not such great workplaces this is not normal.

    Here’s a question for you. Are there any males who are having a problem with Orion? Are any of the people who supported you men? When you talk to the CEO, if you need to do any explaining beyond Alison’s scripts, that’s a bad sign.

    But also, if he’s doing this only to women, that’s something that the CEO needs to worry about, on top of the general bad behavior. And if none of the men are bothered by the fact that this guy is being a jerk to the women in the office, that’s a real culture problem.

    On the other hand, if he’s an equal opportunity jerk, it might be easier for you to make the case, because now no one can try to make the case that it’s just a bunch of women being “too sensitive.” Yes, that’s gross but we all know that it’s a thing that happens.

    PS I’m not making any assumptions about the OP’s gender (or gender presentation.) But the names they choose for the other staff are clearly gendered. So, if the OP is also female (presenting), then that’s an issue to consider. If the OP is male (presenting) then that answers my question about whether he does this to guys.

    1. Momma Bear*

      I had this thought, too. Most women have encountered a man or two over the years that doesn’t deal with women (especially in any place of authority) well. If Orion is a guy and tries this only with women, that’s a whole different (additional) problem. Especially if his boss is a woman.

    2. Sara without an H*

      It’s definitely a possibility. I once had a colleague who yelled — this was at a university library, so most of the targets were women. (I don’t know if he also yelled at men. Maybe, maybe not.) At one point, two of our senior male faculty took him out to lunch and explained that tenure depends on the vote of one’s colleagues and, if he didn’t get this under control, he was in for a rude surprise.

      I won’t say he turned into Mr. Mellow, but he reined it in enough that we could work with him. And no, I don’t think he would ever have accepted this advice from a woman.

    3. Lyra (OP)*

      This is hard to sort out! I am a woman, and the genders of my co-workers have been correctly inferred. He is (at least occasionally) a jerk to people of all genders. Is it a different sort of issue with women than men? Maybe.

      Fortunately, the CEO did take it seriously – at least in conversation. In action? Hmmm…

  33. Momma Bear*

    While you might have a visceral reaction to someone’s tone, OP, that doesn’t mean 1. you should be yelled at/addressed with a raised voice at work over a difference of opinion and 2. that you were wrong in bringing it up. I actually hope you take from this that you deserve respect and you are able to demand it in a professional way that other people recognize as “good.” I don’t know if you need pro tips on how to human on this one. Sounds like you got it and were able to speak up in a way that others had not been brave enough to do. Remind yourself that you are not responsible for someone’s negative feelings about being called out on their negative behavior toward you. Oh, darn, Orion didn’t like it. You’re fine. Sleep well. Tell your anxiety or RSD to kick rocks.

    But as follow up, I’d talk to the HR/CEO and your boss about Orion’s behavior. From what others mentioned to you, this is not a you thing but an Orion thing that came to a head in that meeting. Someone above Orion needs to talk to *him* about “how to human” and treat his coworkers with respect vs trying to shout them down in meetings. I hope that you continue to get the reassurance you need and Orion gets reminded to chill out because llamas spit.

    1. Lyra (OP)*

      I do wish my anxiety and RSD would skip off and kick rocks together. If this happened again, I would be able to (emotionally) cope with it better because (with the help of supportive people around me) I’ve been able to not feel responsible for his behavior.

  34. She of Many Hats*

    I don’t like the phrasing “not willing to be yelled at” because it appears to accept that only one person has a problem with yelling or whatever the egregious behavior is. I would say “Yelling is inappropriate in this office” because it calls out rude behavior and reminds everyone what normal, respectful office behavior is.

    1. Anna Badger*

      I think I disagree with this, and I’m going to try to articulate why. it’s partly that yelling clearly isn’t being treated as inappropriate in this office, and partly that I think the strongest way to state a boundary is to state what you, as an individual person, will do if that boundary is crossed, rather than telling the boundary breacher what their behaviour is going to be. “yelling is not appropriate” opens up a debate on appropriateness, while “if you don’t stop yelling I will end this call” just states a fact that can’t be argued with.

      1. Lyra (OP)*

        Yes! So if I was in a position of authority over the office, I could (and should) make a statement about whether it was appropriate there. I’m not. I only have authority over myself and my boundaries.

  35. Sunny days are better*

    Many years ago, I was called into a meeting with managers and a VP to discuss a project. I was not a manager but would be involved in the project.

    Out of the blue, one of the managers on the opposite side of the table starts freaking out, swearing and yelling about all the incompetence. I was very pregnant and reactively pushed away from the table. I look around and see nobody react at all. I found out later that this was pretty much his default setting.

    Apparently, he could be rather sh$$ty to his reports as well. I don’t know why they tolerated it, but I will say that I would now just walk out of a meeting like that. I would have never had the courage back then.

  36. Elsewise*

    My very first management job, I was taking over a team whose former manager had been fired. He was… pretty awful. I asked one of my new direct reports what her pie-in-the-sky, ice cream every day, ideal manager would be. She hesitated, but finally said “I mean, it’d be really great to have a manager who doesn’t yell at us very much. Like, I know some yelling has to happen at work, but maybe if you could yell at us a little bit less than Fergus did?”

    I genuinely could not believe that yelling had been so normalized for her that she thought “maybe yell a little bit less” was too big of an ask.

    1. Observer*

      That is so sad! I hope that it was not a sign of bigger dysfunction in the organization. And that by the end of your tenure there, you were able to reset expectations.

  37. CSRoadWarrior*

    Yelling is not okay. And I have been yelled at at work before, so I know how it feels. Not only was it triggering, but it was also embarrassing since other employees have heard it. It is like you don’t want to show your face to other employees for a certain time because you feel like you lost respect from them simply because you were yelled at.

    Of course, as Alison said, there are acceptable times to yell, like if your pants are on fire or if there is danger. But other than that, it is not okay to yell at work, whether you are the supervisor or a coworker. It just isn’t professional.

  38. ThursdaysGeek*

    Yelling is always inappropriate. But claiming that someone is yelling simply because they show their irritation is not yelling. (This is not directed at the OP!)

    My spouse was reported for yelling at a co-worker, and when he told me, it sounded crazy — he never yells. But when a person who is almost always pleasant and soft-spoken speaks a bit sternly, people sometime interpret that as yelling. They hear the displeasure so loudly, even with a voice that not loud. His other co-workers spoke up in his defense, both that he doesn’t yell, and the co-worker had earned the displeasure.

    1. Becky*

      Yup – I have a friend who interprets any stern or disapproving tone as yelling. Even if there was no raised voice.

  39. New Senior Mgr*

    Good for you, OP! Good. For. You. This happens way too often and there should be a zero yelling policy, period.

  40. Fluffy jellybeans*

    OP: Congratulations on calmly putting Orion in their place! And many for the excellent suggestions on dealing with an Orion. One final thought (and not sure I would actually do it myself), but given this is a video call, I think the host has the ability to mute Orion.

  41. Yella Submarine*

    I am going to start off by saying that I believe the OP and their situation, and I do believe they were yelled at because of the intensity of the situation and how Orion is.

    “I’m quite sensitive to yelling. The interaction barely qualified as yelling…”

    This is so interesting to me. I would love to hear what people’s minimum definition of yelling is. Oftentimes when I get interrupted (which is often), I have to keep speaking and speak then louder so that I can keep my train of thought and try to stop the pattern of allowing myself to be interrupted. I’ve been accused of yelling in those situations simply because I am trying my hardest not to be disrespectfully cut off. Then it turns into me being a “yeller” when in reality I am trying to finish my sentence.

    Sometimes I am passionate about what I say, and my voice raises – never out of anger or frustration, but sometimes my professional disagreement is read as this, especially if I am being interrupted. I’d simply like to finish my thought, just like I have allowed them to finish theirs. I have found that if I stop speaking to allow the interrupter to finish, I am often not able to get out my point. When I just stop speaking, this allows people to believe that they can continue to interrupt. “Please stop, I’d like to finish my sentence” has been responded to with “Don’t yell at me!” I’m not yelling, I am asking you to stop talking over me, and you can’t hear me because you’re talking.

    I think I just get a little in my chest about the concept of “yelling” because it can definitely be weaponized for certain people, and it’s an automatic thought-terminating moment because obviously you shouldn’t yell and therefore anything else that is being communicated is completely moot.

    On the other hand, I rarely feel like I am being yelled at unless I see spit flying and red faces. I assume passion or simply just having a loud voice. I have had bosses that do yell, and I recognize that. I’ve had bosses that their overall neutral is slightly disgruntled. I’ve had bosses that their overall neutral is slightly pleasant. I wouldn’t consider the disgruntled neutrals to be yellers, though. So there’s that.

    I also grew up in a loud (not angry) family. So there’s that too.

    Do people feel like they are being yelled at just because something isn’t said in a happy tone? (I need this file on my desk by 3:00pm.) Do people feel like they’re being yelled at because the message happens to be a little negative? (I needed this file yesterday. Where is it?)

    I want to make sure I am not yelling, but to me it seems like anything talking about a whisper with a slightly negative message can be taken as yelling, and it truly does confuse me.

    1. Varthema*

      There is also certainly a cultural element to this as well. Different cultures have different comfort levels with externalized feelings in general, with vocal volume, etc. An American speaking firmly can easily come across as inappropriate yelling in some cultures; another culture’s animated discussion can come across in American culture.

      1. Courageous cat*

        Yeah, I mentioned this too. If you could barely qualify it as yelling, then it’s likely to be a super common way of heated/passionate expression in multiple cultures. It’s always possible that he is from one.

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      To answer your last question – yes, some people think they are being yelled at because a normally pleasant and even-tempered person has allowed their frustration to show. They don’t raise their voice, they don’t use abusive language, but because they are not happy, they are yelling.

    3. Loreasaurus*

      > I would love to hear what people’s minimum definition of yelling is.

      Mine is speaking at an above-normal volume when the environment doesn’t warrant it. Loud environment means loud voice is expected, same with imminent danger. But as soon as someone starts speaking above their regular volume, my brain interprets it as yelling. It’s not always (or even usually) the case that they’re intending to yell. I just have a really over-tuned sensitivity to it.

      I have a similar response to yelling as the OP. Mine is more subdued in that it doesn’t cause insomnia, but people yelling in my vicinity is an almost-surefire way to get me to cry. I’ve done a lot of work on it over the years and _happy_ yelling doesn’t trigger this anymore, so that’s a plus. I can also keep my composure until I can get a good break point to retreat to the washroom, so coworkers are generally unaffected by the tears on the rare occasion yelling has happened at the office. I’ve started crying because of characters yelling in a tv show when I’m not in public though, haha.

      That said, I very much try not to hold it against the people that yell! Especially if they’re not doing it out of anger, and it’s just my brain misinterpreting a normal reaction. Or if they’re not actually yelling at it’s just, again, my brain overreacting. If you’re doing something perfectly normal like trying to not be interrupted and my brain interprets that negatively, that’s on me. Not on you. And I will try my absolute hardest to not show that it’s upsetting me, and logic through the situation as soon as I’m not actively experiencing Emotions about it.

    4. Middle of HR*

      I had a similar thought at the “barely qualified as yelling”, BUT the fact that other people have experienced this from Orion as yelling, makes me think he was indeed letting his temper get away with him. There’s a level of raised voice which combined with tone may not qualify as shouting/yelling, but which is clearly aggressive and angry. Think about a scene where two people are angry with one another, but trying not to show it. “Would you please pass the salt” might be quite a bit louder than truly necessary, but not loud enough to alarm the neighbors.
      That’s what I imagined, and they level of raised voice is still inappropriate for work. (And admittedly, I would be really alarmed by it on a personal level.)
      And for the record I’m from a very loud and animated East Coast culture so just general booming voices or blunt talk don’t bother me.

      1. anon in affordable housing*

        I used to be in a social group where one member just didn’t have an inside voice. He just sounded as though he were cheerfully projecting over loud background noise. It could be a bit startling at first but it didn’t take long to figure out he wasn’t Yelling At Everyone; he wasn’t doing anything aggressive or angry, he was just loud.

  42. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

    Here is what I told one of my reports when an opposing counsel yelled at her on the phone: hang up. She said she wanted to but couldn’t get a word in edgewise to SAY she was hanging up. I told her to do her best to get it in and then hang up and if he didn’t hear it, that’s on him for ranting. Even easier on Teams/Zoom, where you can chat that you’re leaving/turning off your sound until the dude stops yelling. Normalize the hell out of that.

  43. Chairman of the Bored*

    I am happy to yell at my boss and his bosses as needed, because experience indicates that it’s the only way to get them to treat issues with appropriate urgency.

    It’s not ideal and it may not be “appropriate”, but it is the method that works with the management chain I have.

    I’d never take this approach with anybody who reports to me, though.

    My take is go ahead and “yell up” but not down; part of the trade-off for all the power and material rewards of being management is the fact that you’re going to get the stick from upset worker bees when you leave them hanging.

  44. Jojo*

    LW, I’m so proud of you for standing up for yourself. And I agree, there should be no yelling in the workplace.

    I agree with Allison about now that you stood up for yourself, you may find that the lamasplainer will be more respectful toward you. When I was still pretty new and young at my current job, I got dressed down by a coworker after a meeting. He was recently retired from the military and hadn’t adjusted to cooperate life yet. I very calmly, and without raising my voice, explained to him everything he had just done wrong and informed him that he would never do that again. He was contrite, he apologized, and he never said another disrespectful word to me, or anyone else in the office, ever again. I hope that’s the case with Orion.

  45. Valancy Snaith*

    In a work environment where yelling is I’ll say not common but accepted, the difference is that the yelling is usually not specific to a single person. If a single person’s yelling is acceptable….weird. If yelling is A Thing there….less weird, understandable that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it is what it is,

  46. Varthema*

    Yelling is not appropriate in any workplace – and this following thought doesn’t apply to OP as it doesn’t sound like it’s in their purview – but it also looks like there’s a major procedural issue upstream. If Orion deems it actually impossible to llama groom to x standard, that’s a huge problem – either with his suitability in that role (HE can’t groom llamas to that standard), or there’s something blocking him and he keeps raising it and it keeps getting ignored and he and his team get blamed. Either way, that’s going to end up with one seriously frustrated employee, and frustration has a way of leaking out all over the place.

  47. Parcae*

    Any yelling is too much yelling for me. It doesn’t even matter if *I’m* not the one being yelled at; raised voices trip all my stress responses. My sympathies to the LW.

    I once applied for a job that on paper looked pretty great– interesting work, good pay, great location– but when I asked the recruiter why there appeared to be a lot of turnover, she immediately fessed up that the CEO was a yeller but was “working on it.” She was smart to be open about it; if I’d taken the job, I quickly would have become part of the turnover. I thanked the recruiter for her insight and dropped out of the hiring process on the spot.

  48. Ariana Grande's Ponytail*

    Curious because it’s a problem for me today and always – what can one do about a team they sit near who are often having loud, expletive-ridden conversations amongst themselves, verging on yelling? I don’t work directly with these people but due to their nature and our proximity I am party to all of their agitated goings-on day in and day out, and it can be quite disruptive to my ability to focus in on my own work.

    FWIW I don’t feel like I have standing to go to their manager(I’m not even sure who it is anyways) and I am hesitant to speak up directly to them because it seems fairly normalized on their team. And I’m a woman and they are all men.

  49. XF1013*

    On my first day after being reassigned to a different manager, someone who I respected in the organization, I was disappointed when out of nowhere, he started yelling at the team for a mistake that they’d made a few days earlier. He clearly wasn’t really angry with anybody: He seemed disingenuous and ill at ease while doing it, and much more “himself” when cracking jokes and complimenting people before and after the yelling.

    It was as if he had learned some weird managerial “trick” somewhere that in order to train people not to make mistakes, you’re *supposed* to yell at them, as if this was a normal managerial duty. It reminded me of people who yell at puppies after a housebreaking accident, which has a similar long history of people doing it because “that’s what you’re supposed to do” despite ample evidence that it doesn’t work (and is self-evidently cruel besides).

    Having that experience early in my career helped me frame my mindset about subsequent yellers, whether managers or otherwise: Like toddlers, they haven’t developed the communication skills to articulate their needs, so they turn up the volume as a desperate resort. I agree with Alison and most commenters that yelling is not OK — but in workplaces where it happens anyway, perhaps this mindset can help. It has certainly made me feel bemusement and pity rather than stress when I’ve been on the (thankfully rare) receiving end of a tirade like Orion’s.

  50. I edit everything*

    I shrieked at work once, but I think it was justified. A wet ceiling panel fell on my head.

    1. Observer*

      I just gasped. And I’m just reading it.

      OP, when you fall onto someone’s head, you should expect them to yell. Even yell at you maybe. Otherwise, not so much.

  51. ACA*

    My team tried to address this with our boss once. She responded: “I don’t yell, I bellow.”

    I’m so glad I don’t work there anymore.

    1. pally*

      My interview question to the hiring manager: “How do you support your reports? ”

      Hiring manager: “Well, I’m the only one who is allowed to yell at you. I won’t allow anyone else to do that. ”


  52. Bex (in computers)*

    Y’know, it’s funny this posts today, because I walked into work this morning to the news from two colleagues that Mike (not real obvs) was losing his mind at Kenny (see earlier) re: Vernon being late to a meeting. Kenny is not Vernon’s manager, nor does he have any control over Vernon. Nevertheless, Mike proceeded to yell in the office about Vernon to Kenny, while the rest of us avoided it. Clients two rooms away heard the yelling.

    And it’s always accepted in my industry (heavy industry) that people will yell. That these are “rough and tumble” guys and we just need to be less sensitive and let them yell. But I don’t accept that. A few times I’ve had the nerve to point someone to the door and tell them that they were welcome to come back and speak with me when they could be professional, but I didn’t deal with tantrums. More often, I simply give them a blank look and then when they’re done say I couldn’t understand a thing they were saying due to the yelling and they’ll have to try again in a calm tone.

    (And, inevitably, I have panic attacks and terrible anxiety the rest of the day for being yelled at by people who also like to physically impose.)

    I just don’t understand it. They wouldn’t tolerate people yelling at them, but it’s okay for them to do it.

    1. Observer*

      And it’s always accepted in my industry (heavy industry) that people will yell. That these are “rough and tumble” guys and we just need to be less sensitive and let them yell.

      Yeesh! It reminds me of a harassment case I read about some time ago. The company admitted that the staff were using sexist and problematic language. But since it’s “blue collar” environment, that’s just how guys talk and the plaintiff was being overly sensitive.

      They lost.

  53. Jenny F Scientist*

    I have yelled at work twice: both were lab accidents where I was yelling about safety, like “Unplug it! Unplug it!” so nobody got electrocuted with the electrical equipment that was now in a small lake. It was so dramatically unusual that students brought it up for years. Otherwise, there is no amount of appropriate yelling.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      This somehow triggered the memory of my middle school Spanish teacher who was fantastic and the only time she ever yelled was “Get away from the windows!” because we were on the third floor over a parking lot and the windows opened WIDE and she was, appropriately, nervous that someone might fall out of them. One of her classes pulled a prank on her and had a student lie on the ground outside and they told her that there was a body on the ground outside. She ran over, terrified, but then (as she told the story later) the body waved.

      She was great.

    2. Enai*

      That sounds like it was stressful. I’m glad for the big red mushroom buttons next to the doors in all modern labs I’ve ever been in.

      1. Jenny F Scientist*

        There were also GFCI outlets so it probably would have been okay but the other thing I was yelling was “Turn off the WATER!!”

  54. DJ Hymnotic*

    I would have loved to have had this column to read during my brief stint working in retail, because that experience taught me that routine berating from a supervisor or employer always, always, always means there is more problematic behavior behind the yelling.

    In my case, the store owner was unable or unwilling to deal healthily with the demands of their business, so they routinely took their stress and rage out on their employees. They would then act out vindictively (ending certain perks, changing our schedules on the fly, etc.) when they felt like the staff was not being sufficiently appreciative of this apparently highly sought-after opportunity to be yelled at on the regular.

    It got to the point that when the owner was at the store, I had to actively disassociate to avoid having panic attacks (and naturally, they always had an excuse, explanation, or justification for their bad behavior). I’ve kept in touch with a couple of my coworkers and from what I can gather, pretty much everyone there now is actively applying for new jobs.

    All of that is to say…reading this piece was pretty darn cathartic today and a helpful reminder that I wasn’t going insane for feeling like all of that behavior was (is) inappropriate.

  55. Sometimes maybe*

    I know Im about to get burned in the comments, but becoming desensitized to mild yelling is not a bad thing in the workplace and probably indicates a healthier response when someone is “barely” yelled at than needing to cry and leave the office to calm down. And I am obviously talking about someone raising their voice in frustration, not condoning saying verbally abusive things. I know I am in the minority, and I say this as also a diagnosed autistic person, I think the OP, and several commentors are over reacting a bit. I’m not defending the yeller but his frustration to being interrupted and dismissed was understandable; he should have moved on and not said anything further, but the OP did not need to take it so personal either. I appreciate the move to view employees more like complete people and not drones, but I think the amount of outrage we feel toward hurt feelings is becoming unproductive.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      a few people who heard what happened said, “That is so awesome that you stood up to him! We support you! He’s always been like this and we’ve just gotten used to it but it’s definitely not okay.”

      Except Orion has apparently made this a habit an everyone else has let it slide. It’s well past time to stop indulging this kind of behavior.

      1. Middle of HR*

        This! If behavior is bothering all the coworkers, to the point where at least one person won’t work with the person, the issue is with the rude person raising his voice.

    2. Courageous cat*

      Agreed. If someone is raising their voice in frustration (because someone interrupted them, especially)… that’s waaaay different than outright screaming/verbal abuse, which should never be tolerated at work. I feel like you’re going to see the former a lot in workplaces, and it’s not necessarily horrible.

      “I think the amount of outrage we feel toward hurt feelings is becoming unproductive.” – well said

    3. Loreasaurus*

      > I know I am in the minority, and I say this as also a diagnosed autistic person, I think the OP, and several commentors are over reacting a bit.

      As someone that cries in response to yelling – I’m definitely overreacting when I do it. I KNOW I’m overreacting, and wish I could stop the response. xD Unfortunately for me, my brain is quick to interpret things as yelling and even quicker to cry about it. I’ve gotten good at keeping my composure until I can get somewhere private, but yelling even around me is almost definitely going to make me cry. I never hold it against the people yelling if they weren’t doing it at me in anger though. It’s not their fault my brain overreacts to everything.

    4. Observer*

      but becoming desensitized to mild yelling is not a bad thing in the workplace

      Totally disagree. Even “mild” yelling does not belong in the workplace. It is totally not a good thing to get desensitized to bad behavior.

      probably indicates a healthier response when someone is “barely” yelled at than needing to cry and leave the office to calm down

      No. That’s like saying that hypothermia is probably healthier than heat stroke or burns. You can make the argument that the OP over-reacted, that it’s not a healthy reaction, and that they probably need to find better coping mechanisms. I don’t know if I would agree (and clearly a lot of people would disagree.) But it’s a valid point to raise. But even if you are 100% objective correct that the OP was over the line, that doesn’t make actual yelling on a regular basis ok, or something to get desensitized to.

      And that’s really the key issue here. The big problem here is not the Orion raised his voice *once*. It’s that he does it on a regular basis.

      1. anon in affordable housing*

        It isn’t just that he raises his voice, it’s that he seems compelled to dominate his coworkers with all the monologuing, refusing to be redirected, etc.

        If he’s an outlier in the culture, someone ought to be managing him out of this behavior or out of the company.

    5. Lucky Meas*

      I’m really surprised to see multiple commenters suggesting that it’s a good thing to be emotionally unaffected by “mild yelling”, or “someone raising their voice in frustration.” Surely that is a sign that something is not right. If someone is noticeably frustrated with me I would be upset and concerned, of course I would take it personally.

      If Orion tends to monopolize conversations and responds to being interrupted mid-tangent with yelling–Orion and their manager should discuss his soft skills. If Orion is constantly being interrupted and talked over, then their manager should talk with OP & OP’s manager and they should discuss OP’s soft skills. No healthy organization would shrug and say “Well I guess Orion’s gonna have to suck it up about being interrupted, and OP should suck it up about being yelled at.”

      Do you really think it’s OK to yell at people at work?

  56. Ashley Armbruster*

    I’ve had two past managers who each had 1 episode where I experienced extreme combativeness, on top of them being nasty and defensive during the same time. One of them was a big man (at least 6’3″), and thankfully it was over video. If it were in person I would have been physically terrified. He apologized later on, but our relationship never recovered, and he found a new job about a month later.

    While those technically weren’t yelling, I come from an abusive family, so they were quite triggering for me. I never felt comfortable around either of them again. Once is too much.

  57. MillennialHR*

    I work in HR, so I pretty much regularly get yelled at by angry employees. I’ve worked in the service industry for many years before graduating college and getting a regular 9-5 office job, so my solution was to simply ignore it from customers. When I started in my first, very toxic job, I did the same thing, and have learned the need to stand up for yourself. You did great and I would say the same thing and have a private conversation with my supervisor afterwards requesting that I do not get “yelled at” again. We’re not children and you shouldn’t be afraid someone will yell in a meeting! If anyone yells at the phone, I just politely tell them that they are not in a good place at this moment and they can call back when they calm down. Usually people realize how ridiculous they’ve been when I point it out to them and I get an apology, but sometimes not.

  58. Jessica*

    OP, I appreciate you and your healthy boundaries and self-respect so much, and don’t let anyone convince you to compromise them.

    I came from a family of yellers, and went into a highly abusive industry where it was normalized (because it was a sign of “passion”), and at one job it literally put my manager in the hospital (it turned out to be an anxiety attack but at the time he thought it was a heart attack). I mean, it wasn’t just yelling–people also threw things at each other, one of the managers had a habit of trying to kick the chairs out from under people he thought weren’t listening to him, etc.–but the yelling was the thing that always started my skin crawling.

    It took a lot of therapy for me to stop feeling like there was something wrong with *me,* because I had negative physical reactions to it (my doctor described my cortisol as “at active combat deployment levels”). I felt like I was just oversensitive and needed to toughen up. After all, people were yelling because they *cared* about the work we were doing! They were passionate! We were in a creative industry! Of course emotions were going to be high!

    But seriously, your job is a period of time each day when you trade your time and skills for money. At no point should that involve open expressions of anger or contempt.

    You should not be subjected to verbal abuse at your job, and I’d consider yelling a form of verbal abuse. Unless, as Alison said, someone’s yelling to warn you about imminent danger, or unless someone’s being assaulted and is yelling at the person who’s doing it to stop, there’s no justification for it.

  59. anoncat*

    Thanks for confirming that you’re not actually llama groomers. I’d hate to see this kind of unprofessionalism spreading in the noble and decorated field of llama grooming.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I added that clarification to the letter because someone who’s not a regular reader of the site would be very confused otherwise.

  60. Latetotheparty*

    You haven’t been yelled at until you’ve worked in a restaurant. My background was non-profit management and I was offered a sales manager position in a well known restaurant chain. Turns out I loved that job and I was good at it. However, almost none of the “normal” business practices applied here. The only way I could deal with it was to turn and walk away mid-tirade.

  61. not a hippo*

    Orion sounds like a bully and a jerk. And like most bullies, he deflated the second you stood up to him.

    I wouldn’t give this place too much more of your time if you can help it. Job hunting sucks but getting yelled at sucks more.

  62. Coco*

    Years ago I worked for a small family owned/operated business. I was one of the few employees who were not family. The owner was notorious for yelling… but only at his children and wife. He never yelled at any of us non family employees. He was so loud that you could often hear him yelling from the other side of the building. I hate to think about having to grow up in that household. It must have been terrible.

  63. Velveeta v. Cheddar*

    I came here just to say I loooooved the constellations-as-names in this question.

    -The Winter W

  64. urguncle*

    I deeply appreciated the time someone yelled at me during my job at a time where it was absolutely not warranted because it just really let me know that my instincts were not off, that this boss was absolutely abusive and there was no reason for me to continue to question myself.

  65. Sometimes maybe*

    I re-read the letter several times because I really think I’m missing something. The “yeller” was interrupted when starting to explain again his frustrations with the llama grooming expectations, when the OP tried to interrupt/cut him off, he “yelled” – “I was talking first”. The OP was then so upset she waited 10 minutes and said “do not raise your voice”, Then this interaction caused her to stress cry and leave work for a while. Was there something more that caused such an emotional reaction to a very minor “incident”. I think the management and co-workers were probably responding to OPs reaction and not really to Orion.

    1. mondaysamiright*

      Yes, you missed a few things.

      OP admits they had a strong reaction because they’re not neurotypical. “My strong sensitivity here may be linked to my autism.”

      Also, it didn’t take them 10 minutes to calm down enough to say something, it took Orion *that long* to stop talking, “Ten minutes later, I could get a word in and said…”

      OP also described multiple teammates having issues with Orion, including one that won’t work with him. The team lead who was in the meeting might have just been responding to OP’s reaction, but the others sound like they’ve also had bad interactions with him and are sympathizing with someone else who’s dealing with him.

  66. Old13oy*

    I struggle with this. I’m a large person with a naturally loud voice, and my work involves things like making announcements to a crowd without a mic – I’m really good at projecting. I’m also a person that struggles with anxiety, and as my anxiety goes up my volume can also increase. It’s never directed, I’m just louder than normal and it’s rarely helpful

    1. Sarcasm required*

      I too struggle with volume control. at least you’re always too loud. I’m sometimes too loud, sometimes too quiet. I did once have a manager who explained on one of my first days that they’re half-deaf and so would maybe be too loud and to not take it personally. I wonder if that approach would work for you as well? good luck, fellow person with a broken volume control!

      1. Old13oy*


        Maybe it’s enough to simply say “I have a giant set of lungs and I use them, I promise to try to remain volume-appropriate at all times but if I’m ever too loud for you just let me know”

        1. Middle of HR*

          This is fine, I think there’s a huge difference between being a lively naturally loud person and suddenly getting loud specifically when disagreeing or debating normal work stuff.

  67. Mensa Maid*

    This was a very triggering letter for me. I had a manager who loved to yell, mostly at me. To the extent that people on other teams would come up to me and say “What’s wrong with Cersei?” To which I would always answer “She’s got a lot on her plate.” One of her favorite tactics was to come up to me in a public area where there would be other people walking by – once just as I was entering the ladies restroom – and start yelling at me. Glad to be out of that place.

  68. Not Sorry*

    I yelled at work one day and I have no regrets.

    I am female. I was at the copy machine during COVID when there were few people in the office (small office anyway) and I was concentrating. A male co-worked who, shall we say, tends to sometimes verbally test boundaries with a bit of innuendo, poked me. I squeaked. It was cute. At that moment, because while female, I am not young and female, my lifetime of experience gave me a moment of perfect clarity that I had to shut that down so hard and so thoroughly that it could never happen again. I raised my voice and I told him that wasn’t OK, and why. He said he was sorry and tried to scuttle away. I raised my voice again, told him I wasn’t finished, and explained my point of view with greater eloquence. Reader, he has not so much as made eye contact since. Later, I learned that my raised voice was overheard by others but they saw who was involved, decided I was handling it, no one intervened, and there was zero blowback. Clients were not present, and this was not a public facing office. I regret nothing. I would regret it if a bystander had been upset, but that did not occur. I do think that this is the rare instance where a raised voice response was not completely inappropriate.

    1. Observer*

      I think that this is the first non-emergency situation I’ve heard of where yelling was appropriate. But the key is just how badly he overstepped boundaries to start with.

  69. Mrs. Hawiggins*

    I got yelled at once – the guy turned purple and everything. I calmly said, “You know you’re awfully damn comfortable talking to me like that, what gives?” He was so shocked he never did it again and his boss came and apologized for it. I told him he seemed comfortable apologizing for the coworker and that maybe this should be addressed, you know, before I quit. I did later, but was glad I said what I said. I was calm as anything on the outside but on the inside not so much.

  70. Csethiro Ceredin*

    OP, you handled this great and it seems like it worked… though Orion may need some other boundaries at some point from the sound of him.

    Yelling AT or OVER someone is really not ok in any office I’ve worked in. However my ex said it was very common at his work to have screaming matches break out between people, including senior managers. I was horrified and he just shrugged and said “car industry!” I don’t know if it was just those particular workplaces or if some industries are more yell-y.

  71. Squamous and Rugose LLP*

    Great job standing up for your dignity as a human being, OP! As a fellow autistic person I’ve really struggled in the workplace with the fact that the rule internalised as a kid that says “you have to be nice to everyone” does not in fact mean you have to only be nice to everyone all the time.

  72. Full Time Fabulous*

    I am so glad to see this letter and know that I am not alone. I came to my current office from a very toxic and abusive office and find myself working in the office next door (and on the same team) with this office’s “missing stair.” She is old enough to be my mother but throws tantrums, which include yelling and sometimes cursing. These tantrums are generally directed at one of three people: myself, our mutual supervisor, or the newest employee. The others in the office just say “Oh that’s just Amy” or they say nothing or they say “Amy is just having a hard time because she used to do everything in this department and now parts of her old job have been given to other people.”

    Last week she really went way too far with her tantrum and I requested to leave for the day. I just couldn’t be in the same space with her anymore. Our mutual supervisor talked to her and says she was promised change but we’ll see. I am open to people changing but I have seen far too much of this behavior. She is claiming she will retire in a year but I’m not sure if I will still be here to see it.

    1. Observer*

      You have a manager problem as much as a Amy problem. How does someone get away with regularly yelling at people to this extent?

      but I’m not sure if I will still be here to see it

      It’s good that you are planning an exit.

  73. Turquoisecow*

    I had a coworker yell at me in a meeting because he disagreed with something I said (I was right). I wasn’t super upset by it, mostly pissed, but I’ve worked with/near him (we don’t interact often but we’ve been coworkers at two companies over more than ten years at this point) and I know how he is. My boss was appalled and so was my coworker’s boss, who was also in the meeting. He asked the coworker and my boss to stay afterwards and basically told him that was not acceptable behavior. My boss found me after that and told me what had happened – he was more upset than me. The coworker did not apologize to me but he hasn’t yelled since so I think the message sank in. I don’t have to interact with him often so that makes it easier – if we were closer coworkers on the same team it would be more annoying.

    1. Turquoisecow*

      A few months after this another coworker was very rude to me in an email my boss was copied on. He was again appalled and forwarded it to her boss, who replied in a scathing email telling her that was unacceptable. I wasn’t copied, but my boss forwarded it on to me. She also didn’t apologize either but has been at least outwardly courteous since then.

      Honestly the rudeness is part of the reason I’m thinking of quitting. It’s hard to get stuff done when you feel like you’re fighting with everyone all the time.

  74. Environmental Compliance*

    There has been one (1) time I have yelled in a work setting.

    There was a medical emergency and I needed to clear the scene for our team to be able to reach the person, and I had (no joke) 30 uninvolved people clustered around the person in need, and the medical team couldn’t get to the person.

    There are very, very minimal reasons to yell in a work situation.

  75. ZugTheMegasaurus*

    I work with outgoing sales contracts; on quarter- or year-end dates, I typically have to stay online trying to get as many of my contracts booked as possible before the clock strikes midnight. Several years ago, I encountered a bug in the system at about 10:30pm. This sales rep manager was furious at the hang-up and refused to get off the phone with me until I fixed it. He wouldn’t listen when I said that he was going to be bored and it would be easier for me to focus without dealing with the phone, so I put him on speaker and hit mute. My manager’s manager was hunched over my desk with me for the better part of an hour trying to troubleshoot the problem, and I guess the sales manager forgot he insisted we stay on the line. He starts whining and moaning about how I’m just incompetent and don’t know what I’m doing and why the eff he has to deal with these stupid people.

    My manager’s manager raised his eyebrows, then reached over to switch off the mute button and said, “We have this handled, I’m going to hang up now” and hung up the phone. It was about that moment that I finally resolved the problem, so he went back to his office, but apparently stopped by my boss’ desk to tell her what happened.

    Now, my boss was an incredibly sweet and upbeat person who always had a smile for everyone, but that was when I learned that she did not tolerate ANY disrespect toward her reports. She called this sales manager and read him the riot act; you could hear it from down the hallway even through her closed door. She demanded that he call me the next day to personally apologize, which he did (and it was quite possibly the most sheepish I have ever heard a person sound).

  76. New Yorker*

    Yelling not OK, BUT if you and Orion are at the same level, I would be pissed if you shut me up. I would hope I would politely say I do not want this tabled.

    1. Middle of HR*

      It sounds like he’d said his piece, and meetings have time limits. Sometimes you have to get to other items and it’s not rude to cut in and say that we’ll come back to that issue another time.
      I abhor being interrupted, but I understand that in work meetings it has to happen if other stuff is going to be accomplished.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      This has come up a few times and I wanted to respond to it — if you’ve been monologuing during a meeting that’s not supposed to be a monologue, it’s not rude for a coworker to finally break in and interject.

  77. Absolutely Not.*

    “Shouting is for emergencies” is the rule in my home & in my office. We do not raise our voices at other people unless there is imminent danger. Shouting at a colleague because you are frustrated & unable to regulate your emotions constitutes bullying & requires written warnings.

    1. Best Regards, T*

      That’s the same rule I have with my dogs! You don’t want to yell as a way of correcting or training them. You reserve it for when the leash slips from your hand and they go running towards traffic because they saw another dog in the bed of someone’s truck. That way they’ll stop dead in their tracks and come back with their tails tucked like “Uh! What’d I do?¿” (True story.)

  78. Lyra (OP)*

    Thanks Alison for answering, and thanks everyone for your comments! I also appreciate everyone using they/them for unknown gender, for those curious about the gender dynamics here I’m a woman (she/her).

    In the three months since I wrote in, Orion has not yelled at me again. I did give feedback to the CEO, who also probably Orion’s manager. He took it seriously and agreed it was a problem, but I did turn down an offer of direct action. The incident had been dealt with (apology!), I was more concerned with the possible pattern.

    The pattern that *has* continued is that Orion llamasplains a lot. I don’t say mansplain because I know it happens with people of all genders. For example, when we’re in a meeting with the other team so we can address issues, he’ll explain our issues to them and their issues to us, but often missing key details so we have to just wait for him to finish before we add/correct/clarify. I sometimes have an issue with the inefficiency of this communication.

    He and I were on-site and someone outside the company asked about and Orion said “Oh, Lyra’s the expert!” and then cut in after my first two sentences and explained it all himself.

    This is the pattern I will likely bring in the next feedback round.

    I was fascinated by the discussion of “what yelling is.” I do have a strong sound sensitivity, but what affects me more is the amount of aggression and frustration. He was not very loud, but seemed very angry. I was so confused by how strongly he felt about this one specific issue, and that contributed to my strong reaction.

  79. Mother Trucker*

    I cut off my own mom because she communicates by yelling. Do not put up with it. It is unprofessional, condescending, and humiliating. If they cannot get a point across without yelling them they have no point.

  80. Best Regards, T*

    It’s creepy how very timely these posts are sometimes – first with the round-up collection of articles on professionalism and now this with the yelling. I recently disciplined an employee for the first time after 2 years and at least six 1-1 conversations about her behavioral, attitude and temper problems. She lashes out in response to miscommunications or when she disagrees with my instructions. I finally did a formal written warning about the yelling and lack of professionalism. She responded in typical fashion, by lashing out with an emotionally charged, 5-page response, gaslighting on what professionalism means, threatening to quit, and saying some really nasty things about me (thereby proving my point). She burned bridges over what should have been a straight-forward simple correction.

    I kept my boss in the loop about the pattern all along and he backed me up when she tried to fight the write-up, but I’m still uneasy about one thing he said. I had said that I’m open-minded on most things, but that yelling is a non-negotiable that I have zero tolerance for. Boss said he thinks that’s the wrong approach and that I should give room for people’s humanity to express frustration sometimes. I said some frustration is fine, but screaming at me, both in private and in front of my other employees, is NOT.

    I’m concerned that he may not back me up if she does it again, but I already outlined in the write-up that further occurrences will result in more disciplinary action. It has happened too many times for her to get anymore freebies. And I’m not optimistic that the communication trainings I assigned her will help, given the reaction and her complete inability to self-reflect or take accountability.

    1. Choggy*

      What disciplinary action has been taken so far, it’s not apparent in your post. If they have not been able to get a handle on their abusive (yes, it’s abusive, not just to you, but the rest of your team) behavior. Training won’t work if someone does not think they have anything to learn. When she threatens to quit, why not hold open the door?

  81. Flying Cheetah*

    I read a Reddit post from someone who had started a quiet campaign of calling a yelly coworker “emotional.” The coworker was a man who had frequent angry outbursts, and the poster started describing him to others as “emotional,” “throwing a tantrum,” and the like. It sounded like it was somewhat effective at changing people’s understanding of what was going on, and plus it sounded kind of hilarious. I’ll try to link the post below. Obviously not a sure fire solution but maybe fun to try.

  82. Choggy*

    I feel any kind of yelling in a meeting, whether it be with a group is a sign of deeper-seated issues than the ones being discussed. I’ve had one manager yell at me when a project, for which I was taking the brunt though there was also another team member, fell short of a milestone. My manager was the head of our service desk, but when she started all of a sudden, we were also project managers. I did my best, but when it did not suit her, she would yell, and always in front of others. She is no longer my manager, she was able to create a new team for projects, and I had no desire to join it. And she always wondered why I hated her… Unless someone is in danger, and yelling is the only way to save them, would it be appropriate. It should never be the norm in business meetings.

  83. Niniel*

    This whole conversation makes me think of the TV show “The Bear,” where yelling at work happens every day, both at and about people.

    Also makes me wonder: having never worked back-of-the-house in a restaurant like that, is yelling simply accepted in the restaurant industry? Or are there some chefs who run their restaurants differently and have a more friendly environment?

  84. Raida*

    beyond the yelling, Orion sounds… annoying.

    You should give clear, separate feedback on that.

    1) I will not be yelled at. (everyone can agree on that)

    2) Orion has a reputation of talking over people, ranting, mansplaining, wasting time in this way and it’s bad enough some people will end meetings with him or refuse to work with him at times. It would be a disservice to him for his manage to not deal with this, it’s not only unprofessional but it creates a worse workplace for others and damages his reputation.

    So for you personally, plan out a couple of sentences for interrupting with (yes I know it sucks) and practise them. Then if he builds up a head of steam you hold up a hand (I know), make eye contact (I really do know) and state “We are getting off track here, let’s focus on [subject].” You do it calmly, firmly, and repeat with raised eyebrows and a ‘yes?’ at the end so they have something to respond to. (they should respond with ‘yes’)

    worst case scenario is: he gets offended, goes off, you cry, everyone condemns his behaviour even more than they would have for somebody else, and it gets dealt with seriously.

  85. Gemstone*

    Hehe, as a fellow autistic who’s pretty new to the big workplace, I also read the AAM archives as a How to Human manual :D What an excellent way of describing it!

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