Loose tongues – can you trust what your voice is saying about you?


What do people hear – you or your voice?

Is your voice saying things about you without you knowing?

As someone who didn’t speak until I was five years old and who has intermittently lost my voice at times of stress in my life, I am interested in matters of the voice.

What does your voice say about you? Can it reveal things without you knowing? Does it attract or repel independently of the rest of our bodies?  Does it give away what we are really thinking without any cognizance from us?

I remember times when I have taken to the platform ready to deliver an inspiring speech, to rally the troops and persuade an audience of my fitness for a role and my voice has swung limply in the wind, cracked when it should have been solid, limped across the finishing line when it should have burst the tape.

The experts in body language will tell you that when your voice rises in pitch at the end of a sentence it means that you lack conviction in what you are saying. Controlling types are adept at making their voices close down like a mantrap at the end of a sentence in a tone that brooks no argument.

High, breathy tones denote turbo-charged emotional types who like facilitating the health and wellbeing of others, but do not inspire fear or respect.

The opening gambit in a sales call will either establish or destroy the same trust. A confident conversational tone will keep the listener on the end of the phone. A shouty sales pitch delivered in sheer desperation will inspire the ring tone. If the pitch of the voice that is speaking to you changes abruptly, there is fair chance that its owner is lying to you. Of course, it could mean that his underpants are too tight.

An extrovert is ‘outed’ by his or her voice which will be louder and more propulsive. An introvert will speak in a more muted and less speedy way – the voice will give away the fact that its owner is a highly analytical type unwilling to make quick decisions and deeply distrustful of  fast, emotional decision-making. An enthusing style personality will find such people irritating in the extreme as they themselves speak quickly, animatedly and without a great deal of forethought. The analyzer will find such people frivolous and unworthy of trust.

At Powerchange we find that the most important element to establish in manipulating the behaviour of others is the establishment of rapport. The voice is a key instrument in this endeavour. If we hear a voice that sounds like our own then we automatically feel at home with it. Not only do we prefer the voice, but we also veer towards believing what that voice is saying.

Research has also discovered that people with attractive voices enjoy better sex lives from an earlier age – and with more partners. Those with attractive voices are also likely to have better bodies – broader shoulders and narrower hips in men. Its equivalent in women would be an hourglass figure, curves and attractive face. That is why we are so disoriented when we encounter rare cases of beautiful voices attached to visually unappealing owners. A phenomenon that is often associated with radio.

When I was eighteen and working in the City of London as a Lloyds Broker I consciously made the decision to alter my voice from a working class quack from the Thames Estuary to that of a sophisticated public school drawl. The former would have held my career back; the latter ensured acceptance from the privileged sons of the land who occupied the underwriting chairs in the Lloyds of London Chamber of the 1970s. I sometimes wonder where my original voice went. Do tapes exist anywhere of me speaking with my untrammeled Southend vowels and Essex glottal stops? My voice allowed me a career in radio later in life and has sometimes afforded me an authority I probably haven’t deserved. It has quelled schoolchildren in classrooms and chaired business meetings. It has commanded platforms and serenaded women, delivered bulletins and bolstered egos. But I sometimes wonder who is speaking.

The voice is an important instrument of persuasion, reason, argument, flattery, anger and sorrow. I usually think before I use it in case something unintended slips out like a piece of kiss me quick doggerel.

It’s good to have an attractive voice. But attractive voices are more likely to be unfaithful – or at least their owners are. This may be connected with the fact that people with nice voices are perceived as having a more desirable personality.

Having a voice that you are comfortable with and sounds relaxed and at ease when it makes an appearance is usually interpreted as meaning that you are a person of worth, secure in your body, confident and great company.

A useful rapport builder and a pleasant bridge. But I’m listening to the voice within.

 

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