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The Human Voice - Tone


Many people believe that non-verbal communication consists solely of the actions created by our bodies and limbs; like, for instance, facial expressions or the way we cross our legs. In reality, non-verbal communication is a category of language that encompasses a far greater number of actions, including body language, gestures, facial expressions, the way we dress and the way we talk. The way we talk can have a particularly profound affect on how others interpret what we are saying and how we are feeling. It has been discovered that 38% of our communications come across through the tone, inflection, and speed of our voices. We are now on the second of a three part series on the voice, which will examine the tone of voice; it will discuss how it can affect our interactions with others and the messages that the tone of our voices can send. The age old saying, "It's not what you said, it's how you said it" refers directly to tone of voice. Tone of voice is the way a statement is presented and it is affected by the timbre, rhythm, loudness, breathiness and hoarseness of our voices. Physiologically speaking, tone is controlled by the diaphragm, the intercostals muscles between the ribs and the muscles of the larynx, or voice box. The tone of our voice can convey a number of things; namely, psychological arousal, emotion and mood. Moreover, it can reveal social information through a variety of different tones; for instance, sarcasm, superiority or submissiveness. An interesting thing about tone is that, in many cases, it is one of few qualities that are universal across human societies; for instance, adults almost everywhere use high-pitched voices when speaking to infants and children. As mentioned, tone is a good communicator of emotion and mood. Generally, softer tones and pitches are associated with friendliness; softer tones are seen as non-aggressive and helpful. A rising intonation is used in many cultures to signal the posing of a question or asking for help, while higher tones are generally used to request information. Interestingly, men and women often use higher tones and pitches in first meetings. This is believed to help establish rapport, perhaps signalling a more upbeat and happy personality. According to David Givens Ph.D, the tone of one's voice can also have an impact on dominance. Givens believes that there is usually a hidden battle for dominance in conversations and that some people win domination by using lower tones. Lower tones have come to be associated with authority and truth, for both men and women. This is perhaps because, as lab results have shown, voice tone tends to stimulate the right hemisphere of the brain, which generates emotions instead of logic. As the information reveals, tone is an important component of the voice. Furthermore, tone can be manipulated in certain situations to yield a specific outcome; for instance, tone of voice is crucial in telemarketing sales jobs. Studies have recently shown that positive moods and the display of positive emotions can have beneficial results for salespeople and their success in selling products. Interestingly, positive emotions can elicit greater sales even when people are not face to face; allowing tone of voice to unveil emotions over the phone can have benefits for telemarketers. Sales companies are beginning to incorporate body language and non-verbal communication training into their enterprises, hoping to increase the effectiveness of their salespeople and businesses. According to Judith Filek, President of Impact Communications, the tone of a telemarketer's voice is crucial because the customers tend to imagine what the person is like through their voice. If the customers like the voice and how it sounds, they tend to believe the telemarketer is confident, knowledgeable and credible. Filek believes that, to exceed customer expectations and effectively manage one's tone of voice, it is important to sound upbeat, warm, controlled, and clear. Filek believes so strongly in the importance of a "good" tone of voice, she has revised certain tactics for improving one's tone. Some of these tactics include ensuring one is breathing from the diaphragm, drinking lots of water to keep the vocal cords lubricated, sitting up straight, using gestures to make the voice sound more energetic, and avoiding caffeine, as it is a diuretic. It may be shocking to people how important one's tone of voice can be and just how much it can say. Our tone of voice can reveal our emotions and feelings, it can help during first meetings through establishing positive rapport, and it can even be a crucial element in sales jobs. It seems that the old saying, "It's not what you said, it's how you said it" holds true and may be even more important in today's thriving business society.

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