We all have a voice. We use it in many ways over a single day when we’re ordering coffee at a drive-thru, talking on the phone to a client, or chatting with the family at the dinner table. The tone of our voices can vary as well, whether we’re adopting the impersonal and more formal tone with strangers, or our casual tone with friends and family.
Regardless of tone, do you sometimes wonder if you’re being heard? Are your kids characterizing your voice in the same manner as Charlie Brown hears his teacher (“wah wah wah wah wah”)? Does your spouse say “yes dear” in the condescending way that makes you want to escape to Maui by yourself?
In order to make sure others actually hear your voice, it is imperative that you choose your words carefully. If you think your verbal skills might need a tune-up, I invite you to choose “A” or “B” in the following examples.
A. I’m concerned that you’re not going to reach your sales goal this quarter.
B. You’ve got a lot of work to do before the end of the quarter in order to hit your goal.
If you chose “A,” you’re correct. The main tip here is to beware of starting with the word “you.”
A. Please put the movie on pause because I need to talk to you.
B. Let me know when you have a few minutes this weekend to talk.
If you chose “B,” you’re correct. The main tip here is that timing is everything.
A. Why does your internet seem to go down every day at 4:00 p.m. just when we’re gathering on Zoom for our staff meeting?
B. Sometimes I feel so inept about technology so please help me understand why you’re having difficulty joining our staff meetings on Zoom?
If you chose “B,” you’re correct. The main tip here is to own your shortcomings.
A. IF I’VE TOLD YOU ONCE, I’VE TOLD YOU A THOUSAND TIMES TO TURN OFF THE LIGHT IN THE LAUNDRY ROOM!
B. How can I help you remember to turn off the laundry room light?
If you chose “B,” you’re correct. The main tip here is to do your best to remain calm.
A. You have my undivided attention, so please tell me about your day.
B. I just have to answer this text, so hold that thought.
If you chose “A,” you’re correct. This was kind of a trick question, because I purposely reversed the “I” and the “You” to see if you were paying attention. The main tip here is to listen.
If you’ve ever thought your voice wasn’t being heard (and who hasn’t?), take a moment to review my five tips:
(1) Beware of starting your statement with “you”
(2) Timing is everything
(3) Own your shortcomings
(4) Remain calm
Obviously there are many more tips to make your voice heard. Please comment and add a tip of your own. I’ll definitely use them in a future blog.
Keep in mind that repeating a point that you are trying to make over and over will make it less likely to be heard. Plant the seed once and give it time to grow. The approach is the critical part.
Good observation, Jay. Thank you.