Which is more important: what you say or how you say it?
If you’ve ever fought over a problem with a partner or friend, only to reconcile later by calmly re-stating your points, you probably know—tone matters!
You can get the same message across by choosing your words carefully and keeping your voice level. And this extra effort could be the difference between persuading someone or pushing them away.
Of course, it can be hard to adjust your tone when you feel strongly about an issue. But tempering yourself doesn’t mean that you’re lying or being inauthentic. When you come across as aggressive or negative, people will naturally put their defenses up rather than listen.
Here’s how to monitor your tone so that you can speak your mind effectively.
Watch Your Words
Want someone to come around to your point of view and see things through your eyes? There are a few things you definitely want to avoid in conversation. For example, generalizing, using insults or slurs, and swearing should all be off-limits.
Instead, do your best to sound relaxed, measured, and professional. Harsh language won’t make them respect you—it will only discourage them.
Do you have a tendency to cross your arms over your chest when speaking to someone? How about putting your hands on your hips? Certain postures and gestures can make you appear unwelcoming or unfriendly, and that won’t help you make your case.
Why not practice your body language in a mirror if you want to know how you really look when you’re talking. It might feel a little silly, but it can be very helpful.
When you’re upset, it’s understandable if you start frowning or scowling. But if you want someone to walk a mile in your shoes, you need to be aware of the emotions that your facial expressions can convey.
Remember, most of human communication is actually nonverbal. We pick up on so many cues just through facial expressions and body language alone!
Be Gentle, Yet Honest
Yes, your tone matters. But that doesn’t mean you have to hold back on your opinions. Be honest, but become more conscious of your phrasing and stay self-aware.
Before you speak, imagine how the person you’re talking to perceives you. Sometimes, you might not realize that a certain “edge” to your voice can make people feel like they have to be on the defensive. So, simply adapt a gentler tone.
When you want someone else to see your point of view, remember that it’s not all about you. In fact, listening is just as important as talking. So, take care not to talk over the other person or interrupt them. Give them space to talk, and know when it’s time for you to be quiet for a moment.
Listening to someone lets them know that you’re not just trying to push a certain opinion on them. It’s also a sign that you care about how they feel and want to know what they’re thinking.
Practice With Therapy
Even if you know that your tone matters, it can be hard to hold back when you’re passionate and strong-willed. You may wonder if you can really say what’s on your mind without giving in to negativity.
Couples, relatives, and individuals are all potential candidates for relationship therapy. If you feel like you need a little help in becoming a more diplomatic communicator, it never hurts to reach out to a therapist. You might be surprised at how much you can gain from a couple of sessions.
Want to learn how to be a better communicator and prevent conflicts before they start? Remember that tone matters. I invite you to contact me today to see how relationship therapy can benefit your communication skills.