Updated: Nov 4, 2022
Q: People tell me I come across as bossy and I have a way of talking with them that puts them on the defense. I don’t mean to do this, it’s just the way I talk. How can I change this?
A: Being successful in business today is largely about ones ability to build and maintain strong relationships, with clients, co-workers, etc. The tone in our voices has the power to influence those relationships toward success or failure.
A UCLA study showed that in face to face interactions only 7% of communication is words, 55% body language and 38% in tone of voice. What is even more staggering is on the phone only 14% is words with 86% attributed to tone of voice.
There are essentially two basic tones of voice; an open ended tone has a warmth, sincerity, curiosity and relaxed interest to it. When we speak and listen from this place, people feel and hear “I am interested and appreciate you.”
Conversely, a close ended tone is more direct, flat, tight, short & assertive in nature and says to people “I’m not interested in you.” I am sure this is not what you are intending to say and unconsciously this is what people can hear and feel. Because today’s workplace is moving at an ever rapid pace, our voice follows that pace and our relationships suffer for it.
If we were to use the 80/20 rule here, we would be aiming for 80% of the time using open ended tone and 20% close ended.
Your job now is to become an expert in becoming aware of your own tone of voice when communicating with others. Ask yourself “is my voice warm, soft and curious?” If it isn’t simply notice, take a breath and shift your tone!