Tone of Voice in the Workplace

NEWSLETTER EDITION: SEPTEMBER 2016

Hope you have had a safe and relaxing summer.

I write an awful lot about what we say to one another, and how it does or does not serve us in our relationships or in conflict scenarios. It behooves us, however, to remember the striking fact that only around 7% of our communication is based solely on the words we use.[1] This doesn’t mean our words don’t matter, but it does mean that when it comes down to what ultimately gets understood in a communicative event, nonverbal cues can be the determining factor. This is as true in the workplace as it is in your personal life.


Today, communication in the workplace is a major determinant of career success – which we now know is about much more than what we say around the office. This article kicks off a series on nonverbal communication in the workplace, beginning with an important topic I’ve written only briefly about before: tone of voice in the workplace.

VOICE OF INTENTIONS

The human voice communicates a great deal more than the literal content of its linguistic message. Tone of voice constitutes 38% of our communication. In fact, a great deal of meaning would generally be lost from a message if you removed the vocal component. Think of how ridiculous and funny it sounds when a recorded, robotic voice repeats a normal human sentence: the content is there, but it doesn’t really seem to mean anything.

[Read more…]

False Perfection, True Equilibrium: Empty Ideals and Healthy Realities

In the last four or five years, the internet has been in an uproar over, oddly, photoshop. It turns out the flawless dreamy skin and hourglass shapes plastered across magazine covers are generally not depictions of amazing humans; they are, rather, the portrayals of a gigantic social fantasy reproduced and made possible by sophisticated image editing techniques. The image components just don’t add up to the real versions of the people in front of the camera lenses, and people have begun demanding that editors and publishers give a more honest depiction of the societies they are representing. Consensus is growing around the idea that these misrepresentations have very real consequences: pursuing that kind of false perfection is often a patently dangerous idea. Health is rather more likely to reflect a commitment to balance and consistency, not extreme attempts to achieve superficial and unrealistic ideals.

In a recent blog post Michael Williams argues that a similar idea can be applied to our emotional well-being. [Read more…]