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Tone – Not Just for Music

05/25/2014

According to my Management 102 professor several years ago, communication is achieved only 10% what you say, 30% how you say it, and 60% how you look. If I say, “You’re an idiot,” in a serious voice, then I’m seriously calling you an idiot and that’s not good. However, if I say, “You’re an idiot!” in a silly sing-song voice with a smile on my face with my head thrown back in a carefree manner, you’d know that I was teasing you. Tone of voice really matters in anything you do from dealing with your highly-strung mother to your boss to a disgruntled customer.

In everything you do, you don’t want your tone to be too harsh. My tone always becomes harsher when I’m stressed or tired or grumpy, and I don’t necessarily notice it. That means that when I’m not feeling good, I really need to concentrate on my tone of voice and the words I choose so that people don’t take what I’m saying the wrong way.

The easiest way to gentle your tone is to literally gentle your voice. By using more of your sexy voice – the voice that comes from your chest and sounds like you’re singing more than you’re talking – and really modulating your pitch you can make yourself sound kind and sincere even when you want to rip someone’s head off. By crinkling the corners of your eyes – not to be confused with squinting, but lifting the corners of your cheeks so that the corners of your eyes crinkle a little bit – gives the illusion of “sparkly eyes” that make it look like you’re smiling even if your mouth isn’t. Add a smile to your mouth and you’ll look like you’re genuinely smiling at the little idiot in front of you who can’t tell a joke to save her life.

But, just as important as tone is word choice. If you have something serious to discuss and you don’t want the other person to go on the defensive, don’t accuse them of anything! You can say the same thing using what is called, “I Language.” Dr. Rick Brinkman and Dr. Rick Kirschner in their book titled, Dealing With People You Can’t Stand say that the best way to call someone out is to emphasize yourself and your feelings and how that relates to them rather than just accusing them of something. So, instead of saying, “You need to call me back more because it tells me you don’t care,” you should say, “I feel that you don’t care about me sometimes because you never return my calls. It makes me concerned because I don’t know where we stand.” This is particularly useful when dealing with dissatisfied bosses and clients!

So what do you do to deal with people? I gentle my voice and pretend to smile so that they never get mad at me.

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From → Business, Romance, Social

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