Your Voice Is Closely Linked To Emotion

13th September 2019

Voice Tip Series/Blog - 3 

Have you ever tried hiding sadness over the telephone, only to have a good friend immediately ask 'What's wrong?'. 

Our emotions give us away most of the time. Face-to-face, our good friends are likely to tell that we are upset, but we may be able to hide it more in other face-to-face interactions. Our emotions affect the way that we move, sit, stand, walk, talk and in the way we communicate with others. Our muscles tighten or release in response to the various chemicals entering or leaving our bodies and the tension, or released sounds, are also apparent in our voice.

 In particular, over the telephone when we cannot see the other person, we naturally tend to pay more attention to our auditory senses to 'listen' to the other person and we are far more likely to pick up cues on how the other person is feeling, even strangers. What people, 'hear' from us when we speak, present, talk in meetings, perform to audiences, has a huge impact on how others perceive us, so it's important to understand and learn what to do if emotion gets the better of you when you wish to make a good impression. And, no. This is not about faking who you are to come across how you think others want you to be. It's about being the best YOU, you as a unique person, by using simple tools and techniques such as mindfulness or relaxation.

Some people practise meditation by sitting quietly in a room and just being, for others they jump on a bike and cycle for miles, go walking in nature, dancing with friends or reading a good book sitting in a coffee shop...I could go on, but you get the gist. Whatever you choose to relax and unwind, doing it mindfully with attention on the activity and your own body, will help you release tensions, be more present and speak with greater ease.

For your voice and body to speak/perform at its best you need to learn how to release tensions that build up on a daily basis and to ensure you practise when you need to practise a speech/interview. Sometimes, it's about simply just allowing the emotion to pass through you and allowing yourself to process it. Other times, if you are a leader in a position of authority, you may need to leave the emotion to one side for an important meeting (depending on how deep the emotion is of course) and understand it is important to pick it back up again to process and allow the emotion to shift through you, allow the changes to take place and then continue.

Yes! You can continue whilst the change is taking place, but take care to note that intense emotions are often about big psychological changes taking place within you, so the way you continue may need to be ever so slightly different than before the event that caused the emotion. Deep, oh so deep. Here is a simpler approach that even people without children can relate too!

A great example of how we 'hear' emotion, is to think of young babies and their parent/primary caregivers. The baby can be in another room fast asleep, wake up and cry and the parent/carer knows what that specific cry means;

  • Turn me over (I'm stuck on my front!)
  • Help! I need a nappy change fast!
  • I want to be fed!
  • Attention! I need attention, just a hug will do!
  • I don't feel well!

Of course, it takes some time for them to learn the babies' specific cries! But to the parent's/carer's friends, the cry would need to be figured out by just going through a checklist if they were babysitting! However, the point is the same nevertheless. We 'listen' far more to the vocal qualities (eg. pitch, tone, loudness, prosody) when quickly working out a babies' cry from another room, or speaking to someone over the telephone, because we don't have visual cues. Our auditory senses become stronger, we naturally gain a better understanding of the emotion of the other person and we are able to respond in a more empathetic way. Of course, face-to-face interactions are preferable in many situations and we can hone our communication skills to be able to really listen to those we speak with and develop improved interaction skills.

If you would like to enhance your communication skills, get in touch if you would like more specific help. Throughout September 2019 I have spaces available at heavily discounted rates for those in teaching positions - give me a call to find out more!

For more information on the services I offer in relation to this or other posts, please contact me to book your Voice Work Consultation. 

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