I always talk about owning my s*** or as I like to say to my kids “owning my ship.” As a result, I’m the first to admit there are times when I am impatient and short-tempered. It inevitably shows up in my voice. My tone becomes edgy – there’s a certain sharpness to it, and, dare I say, arrogance? It can be off-putting to the person on the receiving end, who no doubt has no idea what my problem is nor deserves my wrath.
Our voices are powerful tools of communication. They telegraph emotion. Giving Great Voice means being aware of the power and the impact it can have – both positively and negatively – on the listener.
Recently, I had an experience when I was rushing to the grocery store to pick up some meat for a beef stew. I was in a hurry. I needed it to be high-quality with no hormones. I quickly scanned the selection, growing more and more stressed as I didn’t see what I wanted. But I managed to compose myself before I opened my mouth, searching out the butcher who normally hides in the back.
First, the butcher showed me their pre-packaged selection, which I had already seen. That wasn’t what I wanted! I still watched my words and my tone, and politely asked for what I was looking for. To my surprise, the butcher explained that hormone-free meat was in the back, and went through their inventory to get it. It was even at a lower price than the other options in the front!
If I had revealed my annoyance and impatience in my voice when I asked about the meat, I don’t think he would’ve gone out of his way for me. Thinking back to times when I have been impatient, I always have regretted it. In situations where my temper gets the best of me, my version of Giving Great Voice is always profuse apologies.
But today, having the awareness stops me in my tracks, so I don’t have to do damage control on my daily interactions…. most of the time.
I remember my mother’s sage advice: “Ask for what you want.” And, to add to that, if we ask for it in a calm, kind, patient manner, we may get it a lot more often. After all, we like to help people we actually like.
So for me, that story was a win. When you want something, and are feeling rushed, stressed or find yourself getting impatient or entitled… take a deep breath, and remember that people like to help people they like, and go ahead and ask in your best, most gracious tone. You might be pleasantly surprised as well.