It is interesting and challenging times we find ourselves in. For many people the constant worry of family, loved ones, careers, and businesses is playing havoc on our daily lives.
As you grapple to adjust to changes of social distancing and quarantine measures, closing businesses, the isolation from friends, work colleagues, extended family, partners all limit social opportunities, including dating if you happen to be single. The way in which we interact has significantly changed.
Non-verbal communication/body language represents 80% of the way we communicate. The power of touch is so critical to building trust, rapport, with numerous emotional and mental health benefits including physical well-being and intimacy. We use it in a handshake when we do business, put our arm around someone when they are feeling down, to intimately connect romantically and to simply give someone a hug. We are now required to remove it from our daily lives. In physical proximity we are able to use other body language cues to communicate, we can read varying levels of comfort and discomfort by the way someone sits, or fidgets, when they cross their arms or legs, the way they smile, their blink rate and most importantly of all the most honest part of someone’s body, the feet, are hidden. Even the option of camera viewing via technology cannot solve the above dilemmas all of which dramatically reduce the quality of life and human connection.
To continue to cultivate relationships with family and friends, attract new business, retain client confidence in your existing business, and meet new people dating it is essential to upgrade your skills and awareness and master the art of communication using two fundamentally powerful assets you are going to rely on now more than ever: your voice and your ears.
The combination of the way you sound, what’s been said, how it’s delivered, perceived and received has never been more important. We learn at a young age the louder we scream the more attention we get, the power of our voice has the ability to make others react positively or negatively.
The Frontiers of Psychology published a collection of 73 studies conducted between 1977-2017. This compelling research concluded how someone sounds or smells directly affects people’s feelings toward you.
Words have persuasive powers in varying scenarios but they are not the most powerful asset during verbal communication.
The 7% rule was based on research conducted by Albert Mehrabain published in a book, Silent Messages, which concluded the credibility of a salesperson was based on other factors than words. 55% was assigned to body language, 38% to tone and weight of their tone, and only 7% of credibility was assigned the content of words.
Honing in on the 38% is now the wisest, most potent way to enhance the quality of communication during social isolation and quarantine. Understand how to use your voice to cultivate healthy relationships, build client confidence, maintain friendships, develop new connections and maybe even fall in love.
FIVE KEY ELEMENTS TO POWERFUL COMMUNICATION
RATE: SLOW OR FAST
Be aware of the rate in which you speak. Fast talking puts the listener on edge and can leave them feeling agitated, talking too slowly is perceived as condescending and talking down to somebody. Use a combination of give and take tempo.
FREQUENCY & PITCH
Studies conducted on men and women found a high pitched voice in women was perceived slightly less intelligent but too low and you’ll come across as aggressive. Men with lower voices were perceived as having more confidence, influence & leadership. While those who raise their voice at the end of a sentence are perceived as unsure of themselves which can be associated with discomfort or dishonesty.
How you are interpreted by the volume you speak in depends on various factors: loud and desperate when delivering a sales pitch or trying to overpower an argument is not received well. To the same degree soft and nervous in men is regarded differently to soft and sweet in women- be aware of proximity and location, be heard but do so respectfully…
INFLECTION & INTONATION
Light and shade in a sentence is necessary to deliver a message effectively. If you spoke in a continuous high pitched voice similar to the one you’d use speaking to a small child you’ll be perceived as unintelligent, or in a continuous low tone you’ll come across as boring, uninterested and monotone. The highs and the lows of inflection and intonation can deliver your message with certainty and accuracy.
QUALITY OF SPEECH
Your voice is a tool and the quality of its uniqueness has persuasive abilities. Hoarse, raspy or breathy it doesn’t matter, delivering clear well articulated words and speaking with accuracy and authority counts. Use a combination of elements. Speak from the chest register rather than your throat or your nose.
Your voice affects the way you are perceived but having the power to make someone stop & listen goes beyond your voice.
The journal of neuroscience cited studies which concluded women speak around 20,000 words per day compared to their male counterparts who only speak 7,000 words per day.
It begs the question of whether women need to say things 3 times to be heard or are men just better at using the power of their voice more effectively?
PUT IT INTO PRACTICE: FIVE WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR COMMUNICATION SKILLS
1. You have to be present in a conversation, listen to what is being said not just with the content but also the context. Mirror speed, tone and words to build rapport and be mindful of the power of your voice.
2. Don’t dominate the conversation, allow the other person to speak and remember a conversation is a tennis match. You hit the ball over the fence and allow it to come back.
3. Set an intention to what you are hoping to achieve before you open your mouth and ask yourself, is what I’m about to say helpful to the result I desire and beneficial to the recipient.
4. Choose your words carefully. If you really want to be heard don’t be negative, complain, be judgmental, opinionated, or project blame; nobody is really receptive or engaged in hearing these communications.
5. Use the word HAIL to remind yourself of the value of being you– be Honest, speak with Authenticity, have Integrity, and come from a place of Love.
Words have persuasive powers but they are not the most powerful asset during verbal communication. Today, your voice is your greatest asset. Don’t underestimate the importance of the way you sound, what’s been said, how it’s delivered, perceived and received when you are communicating.