Merriam Webster defines the two as:
- Tell – to inform, say, divulge, reveal, narrate, order or direct.
- Yell – to say (something) very loudly especially because you are angry, surprised, or are trying to get someone’s attention; to make a sudden, loud cry.
The two acts are differentiated by volume and intention.
How is it then that Millennials perceive the simple act of telling as yelling when the volume is not loud? I offer four things related to backlash from the self-esteem movement. Millennials are not used to yelling and they are misinterpreting telling as yelling. They may not have even been exposed to real yelling. They are also not used to being told what to do. Why?
QUALIFIER – Remember, generational information is an input not the end-all.
- MINI-ADULTS – Baby Boomers treated children as mini-adults with opinions that mattered. Traditionalists followed more traditional parent/child roles where children did not necessarily have voices that mattered. In fact, they said things like “Children are seen — and not heard”, a reflection from their own childhood. Boomers have taken the concept of being heard to heart in so many ways (two hour meeting where everyone has a chance to talk sound familiar to anyone?). When in conflict, Boomers might say “We’ll talk this out civilly – like adults do” versus saying emphatically “Because I said so!”
- EXPECTATIONS – Baby Boomers asked Millennials questions versus telling them what to do and gave them the freedom to answer with anything. Millennials may not be used to being directed. The simple act of telling can be alien since they expect to be asked – even if they don’t have an answer. Being told what to do can sound like yelling since it impedes on their freedom and may direct them to do something they don’t want to do.
- SPECIAL – We Baby Boomers wanted our children to feel special — and they do. We set this table – and yelling wasn’t on it. What’s this about? Not feeling special ourselves in larger families with the more stoic Traditionalists parents, who we did NOT want to be like, we chose a different parenting style. Traditionalists took roles learned from their parents very seriously. “I’m your parent, not your friend!” Yelling is an option. Baby Boomers parented, “I can be your parent and your friend.” Yelling as an option? Not so much. As a generalization, friends tend not to rage to each other. Rant, maybe? Rage, no.
- LIFE IS HARD – Baby Boomers, though with the best of intentions, removed consequences for their Millennials. We said that our children could do and be anything. We did not always follow that paraphrase with “….it’s going to be hard and you’re going to have to work for it.” And work can be hard places where yelling may exist since we are working with human emotions – the full range of which can be delivered in loud voices!
Make sense? Agree or disagree? There’s more but I’ll stop here and start the discussion.