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Conversational Tone: Choice of Words to Empower Alejandra Crisafulli, Milady Lifeworks Coach and Trainer We live in a world of language and energy. Our words can empower or disempower not only us but others. We may not realize just how much our choice of words impact our world. The language we use is a form of communication, and communication is a key factor in empowerment. Often times the disempowerment we experience is a direct result of not knowing just how powerful the words we use and hear are. We may have learned from a young age that communication is important but do we really understand what communication is and how it will impact us? Have you ever found yourself wondering why your client didn’t understand what you said or why your significant other got so upset over something you said, or why your team member just can’t remember what you have taught them? Why is it that people don’t really understand what we are saying? Communication is the exchange and flow of information and ideas from one person to another. It involves a sender transmitting an idea to a receiver. Empowering communication occurs only if the receiver understands the exact information or idea that the sender intended. Two people can say the same exact words and get totally opposite reactions. The question is why? What is it about communication that has the exchange and flow of information misinterpreted? In order to answer these questions we must clarify the communication process. First there is thought. This is the information that exists in the mind of the sender. This would be the idea, information, or feelings that they have. Next is the encoding of a message. This is the delivery of the idea or information which would be the words used. Lastly is decoding. This is where the receiver translates the words and tone being used. During the time we are communicating a message there are two elements used to receive the information. The first is the content. The content will be the choice of words being used and the second will be the context which is the tone of voice used. Both can create a sense of empowerment; however the tone of voice will affect how the receiver reacts to what is being communicated and will effect whether it is empowering or not. The tone is the non-verbal element or energy carried in the words. We use this energy to interpret what is being said, so even simple messages can be misunderstood. Ironically, we tend to trust the non-verbal energy more than the verbal words being shared. “It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it.” When communicating whether it’s in your own mind or within others how does your tone sound? Are you confident in what you are saying? Is there strength? Fear? Uncertainly? Sarcasm? Really be honest with yourself because this is where you will find empowerment. When it comes to tone there are 4 elements to take into account. 1. Voice Projection is the strength of speaking where the voice is used loudly and clearly. It is a technique which can create empowerment and respect, as well as attention. The breath is essential for proper voice projection. If you are speaking very rapidly and out of breath you may be interpreted as weak or scared. Normal breath flows with your words and comes from the top part of your lungs. Practice projecting your voice using air flowing from the expansion of your diaphragm. 2. Pitch represents the perceived fundamental frequency of a sound. Have you ever listened to someone who never changes their pitch? It is very draining. The most engaging, empowered speakers modulate their voices and their speech becomes almost song-like. Listen to any great talk show host, actor or comedian and try to mimic their “song” by humming it. This exercise will open a new world of communication for you! 3. Definitive Statements are best used when making statements as positive and definitive as possible. Rather than saying, for instance, “You might want to consider going shorter with your hair.” Make a bolder assertion instead, something along the lines of, “Since you want a new look, lets take your hair shorter it will…” Wishy-washy statements will undercut you and are usually the product of an incomplete thought. It suggests you aren’t empowered or confident in what you are saying. 4. Pace your words. Pacing of your words creates a rhythm that can be empowering. When speaking too fast all the words get bunched together in one breath and create a rhythm of uneasiness. Allow your words to flow and pace yourself in an even rhythm. Following these 4 elements will allow you to create words and reactions of empowerment whether this is within your mind or outside of it. Choose your words carefully and watch how the world around you becomes empowered!