I have a friend who is a litigator by profession, and true to her calling, she sounds like a litigator in all aspects of her life. She is smart, interesting, and fun to be around….that is, when it doesn’t seem like she’s badgering people. Her tone is often contentious and argumentative, even if we’re talking about something as mundane as what to order in a restaurant.
The sad part is that she doesn’t realize what she sounds like.
As a friend, I overlook this. Once I had an “organic opportunity” to bring it up, and she denied that she sounded the way that I described. Friends can be forgiving. Colleagues may not be.
Our words can be kind or enthusiastic or mellow, but the way others hear those words depends on our tone of voice. For example, you can express excitement over a new client opportunity, but if you sound like you’re yelling when you share the information, people may not accurately receive your message.
And if it happens in innocuous situations like that, imagine when you’re giving feedback to an employee or having a discussion with your spouse.
The best way to hear how you sound is to record yourself and objectively listen. Do you like what you hear?
If you don’t, the good news is that you can change your tone. It takes some practice, but if you’re willing to give it a try and be accountable for results, you’ll succeed in making the change. I suggest that you enlist the help of a partner who will point out when your words and tone are incongruent.
It’s so easy to miscommunicate given the myriad methods that we use. We may not have control over how our words are read in an email or text, but we have the power to change our tone.
Give this a try. Who knows? Maybe people will start listening to you more thoughtfully.
Have a great week!