Sunday, September 4, 2011
Parkinson's And Your Voice: Don't Give Me That Tone Of Voice!
I had an interesting experience the other day that reminded me of the difference between voice volume ( loudness) and tone ( shouting), a distinction I try to make for patients who are trying to improve their speech and voice, particularly if they have already received some feedback from their spouse that their attempts to be louder are being perceived as "bossy". My male patients, in particular, can have a little trouble with this distinction.
I made a phone call to a gentleman at a University in Ft. Myers. I was referred to this man by a business advisor I work with, and had hoped to receive some specific advice with a project. However, before I barely got "hello" out of my mouth, the voice on the other end of the phone began" barking" questions at me. I was so taken aback, that I asked: "why are you shouting at me?" Seemingly unfazed by my question, he continued with his aggressive tone, until I finally suggested that we end the call and follow-up with an email.
This five minute phone interchange was a great example of how we are always responding to the tone of voice along with the message of the words. In fact, I was so distracted and unsettled by the tone in this instance, I really couldn't process the questions or the statements very well. The "tone" of authority may have it's place in boot camp but it did not have a place in a business call. The tone of someone's voice is often what evokes a particular emotional response from us, and as in my example above, can sometimes cause us to misinterpret the message or dislike the messenger.
Want to check your tone of voice? Below is a fun little exercise I did recently at a Parkinson's retreat. Try repeating the statement: "I am really happy to be here today," while varying the tone as if you were actually making a different statement. Notice the difference between an angry, happy, and disappointed tone. Blue is what you say, and red is what you mean.
"I'm really happy to be here today" (That jerk just backed into my car)
"I'm really happy to be here today" (I just won a million dollars}
"I'm really happy to be here today" (Our trip to the Bahamas was cancelled)
If being louder is one of your personal goals, try noticing your tone this week. Tone of voice often reflects our mood and emotional state, and is the subtle nuance of our voice that makes a listener ask: "what's wrong?" "what are you so happy about?", etc. What is your tone communicating?
If loudness is your goal, another exercise you might try is "placing" your voice in different locations. By that, I mean, choose different spots in the room you are in and direct your vocal energy to that spot. You will likely notice that without alot of effort, as the distance grows further, you become louder.
Have Fun...and I MEAN IT!