I’m coming to you today with a tip that can help you communicate better by changing not what you say, but how you say it. And that’s by becoming more aware of your tone of voice.
I mean, it’s true. What you say matters. But—and the writer and editor in me hates to admit this—your tone of voice to say those words matters just as much, if not more. Why?
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Here’s a quick example…
Listen for the difference between “What a nice day” and “What a nice day”. That sarcastic tone of your voice can make even the most boring statement a cutting remark. By the same token, you can say something that has the potential to be hurtful—like constructive criticism—with a lighter tone of your voice and your comment can land without wounding or causing a defensive reaction in the person you’re giving it to.
This is all a long way of saying, It’s not just what you say that matters; it’s also how you say it
Have you ever heard someone say you could read the phone book and it would be interesting? Well, that speaks to the power of tone.
So think about this for a second. When you give someone feedback, how does it typically go over? Maybe the person isn’t overly sensitive. Maybe you’re just not aware of your tone of voice. It’s like there’s bitchy resting face, there can’t also be bitchy go-to tone.
Or is there someone with whom you’re continually feeling like your conversations don’t connect, or go the way you intend? Start experimenting with your tone of voice.
My husband and kids have been great teachers for me…
And, unknowing experimenters, I admit—on how to use tone effectively. It took me years to be able to say, Hey babe, could you take out the trash? Or to say, “alright, time to brush teeth!” when really, on the inside, I was irritated. Because if I said “Hey! Babe! Could you take out the TRASH?!” guess how well that would go over, and how likely we’d be to bicker in that moment? Or if I said, TIME TO BRUSH TEETH, no teeth would be brushed because my admittedly sensitive kids would probably have started crying when they were younger and then our bedtime routine would get pulled off in a much different direction.
It doesn’t mean you have be all sing-songy. In fact, this can grate on people’s nerves and come off as inauthentic. It’s not something you force. If anything it’s about loosening, physically loosening the tension in your jaw and throat and shoulders helps, and it’s about loosening your grip on whatever judgment might be happening your mind in the moment. Which is a pretty cool and important skill to be able to cultivate (being less judgy will a weekly them in TKTK).
Daily Tiny Assignment
So, for the next 24 hours, experiment with your tone of voice. If you’re up to it, you can also ask the people you’re close to for feedback on what your typical go-to tone may be. It can make a huge difference in how your interactions go, how connected you feel to others, and how you feel in your own mind. Have fun with this one.