Tone of voice is so important when communicating in general, but in the workplace, it can mean the difference between being seen as an asset to the team or being a liability. We all want to work with people that we feel like we can get along with. We want communication to feel easy and natural, not confrontational. Although we might not intend to come across as confrontational, our tone of voice is, in a sense, a filter that our thoughts go through before we actually speak them aloud and communicate in a dialogue with others. Without a good filter for tone, we could have a hard time completing any tasks that involved communication with those around us.
We know that tone of voice is important. But it’s not always easy. “Watch your tone” sounds like a simple edict and one that should be fairly simple to monitor. This is not the case. Here are some tips you can use to adjust your tone and ensure that the message you are sending is communicated effectively, but most importantly, that it is communicated appropriately.
1. Communicating your tone effectively starts with listening.
This might seem backward, but if you want to communicate better, remember that it is a two-way street. Before forming your opinion and responding, make sure that you are giving your undivided attention to the individual you are speaking with. Don’t just listen to the words he or she is saying, understand the emotion and motivation behind them. Your colleague could be struggling with communication issues as well. If he is projecting anger, consider that something may have occurred that hurt his feelings and those emotions may be affecting his tone. If he seems to take a situation or project too lightly, consider that he is nervous about getting the job done. It is your job as a co-worker and team member to pay close attention to the team around you, to not only hear the words they are saying but to understand the meaning and tone behind the message.
2. Pay attention to your body language.
The sound of your voice and the words being delivered are only a portion of the way you are communicating your tone at work. If you are standing over someone, for example, this could come across as imposing. Crossed arms can denote a defensive position and non-responsiveness. eye contact can establish that what you are saying is important and that you are engaged in the dialogue coming back to you as well. Tone of voice and tone of body go hand in hand with effective communication.
3. Think before you speak.
The filter that we have called “tone of voice” works much better when we give it a chance to work. Sometimes we want to get our point across so quickly that often we will even interrupt someone before she can finish communicating her point. But if you just pause for one moment to collect your thoughts, you will not only be able to collect your emotions; you will find yourself communicating more eloquently and effectively. It also gives your receiver the notion that you are engaged and serious about the topic.
4. Be positive.
This one takes some practice, but changing the tone of your phrasing from negatives to positives can make a world of difference. You will be seen as a person looking for a solution, not one who is dwelling on the negatives. For example, instead of saying, “I can’t do anything about my tone of voice,” say something like, “Controlling my tone of voice has always been a challenge for me, but I’m eager to find ways to improve it.” You don’t have to turn into Sally Sunshine and only communicate messages you agree with, but if you can deliver a challenging message in a positive tone, you will benefit and so will those around you.
DiSC® assessment from Upward Solution can take the guesswork out of your office communication. Our assessment not only helps you understand the people that you are communicating with—it also helps you understand yourself better. What kind of communicator are you and how do you improve? It starts with knowing your team. Schedule your DiSC® Assessment with Lori Gorrell today, and start your path to better communication!