Have you ever said something that sounded so clear to you, but nevertheless, it was misunderstood? Perhaps it was in a presentation, a business meeting or in a conversation during a professional networking event. The issue may not be what you said, but it may be how you said it and more importantly, how it was heard. For example, when a teenager comes home from school and walks in the house and mom or dad asks, “How was your day?” and that well-intentioned teenager quickly responds, “fine”, the tone of that answer could be the difference between free time and discussion time. In other words, “fine” can mean so many things depending upon the tone with which that simply/complex word is delivered.
As intentional communicators, this is our chance to game the game. Let’s call this game, “Time To Be Pitch Perfect”. Challenge yourself for a day, in every conversation you have both personally and professionally, to wait three seconds before responding. And in those three seconds, which may feel like an eternity, take that time to not only think about what you want to say, but how you want to say it. Think of yourself as a secret conductor and embrace time, tempo and pitch as an integral part of your orchestra. Think of every healthy conversation as a well-orchestrated symphony and your job is to find the right pitch to compliment each movement.
As you slow down and become more intentional with your tone, reflect on any changes in your delivery. Did you sound different? How did this subtle change affect your interactions with others? Do you think your “symphony” was well received? Did you hear things from others that used to sound normal but now sound slightly or overtly “off key”?
If we focus on how we say things, take control of our tempo and embrace time as an asset, we all have a better chance to hear and be heard with more accuracy and authenticity. And most importantly, with the right tone, we can improve our opportunity to be clearly understood.