Has your nearest and dearest ever claimed they didn’t know why you were upset with them: “What did I say….?”, “Well it wasn’t WHAT you said, but the way that you said it …” sound familiar?
Whether or not we realise it, the meaning of what we say is massively influenced by the tone of voice we use and how we emphasise words. I once knew an administrator who always answered a query with, “It’s not a problem” in such a way that left you in no doubt that it was a huge problem and inconvenience for her.
Studies show that even dogs pick up on our tone of voice and only respond positively to praise when the words spoken match the tone of voice. If you’re a dog lover, I’m sure you’ve already figured that out.
We can easily forget how easily people pick up on our feelings through our tone of voice and how hard it is to keep our emotions out of our voice. I’ve written before about Albert Mehrabian’s classic study of the factors of verbal communication – 7% the words themselves, 38% tone of voice and 55% body language. The moral is – we need to adjust our attitude before we open our mouths if we want our tone of voice to match the words that we say.
Tone of voice applies to written words too, because it is a big factor in the message we convey about our brand and our ethos. Style and usage changes over time and what used to sound professional can now seem wordy and old fashioned to today’s audience. The tone of our websites, blogs, social media posts and emails speak volumes about us, so it’s worth spending a bit of time deciding what tone we want to convey.