I am certain that at some stage you have received one of “those” calls. The question is, in what manner are we dealing with them?
When training and exercising one’s voice, I always encourage my clients to not scream, shout or strain their vocal chords in any way. Obviously, it is easier to remember this aspect during the voice training session. However, to remember this aspect and many others at all times, becomes tough especially when you are new at voice training.
Usually, when receiving these unwanted calls, it becomes difficult to put yourself in the shoes of the caller. We usually scream, slam the phone down, verbally abuse, lie or use any other negative phrases in order to discontinue the
conversation. However, what is actually taking place is not just creating and developing extra unnecessary negativity – we are not communicating effectively. There are a few basic, though important rules and guidelines of communicating effectively with another.
Firstly and most importantly, always be true to yourself and do not speak with ego. In other words, do not get yourself unnecessarily angry or worked up. The more tense and worked up the body and mind is, the more difficult it becomes to find the correct words to use and for the words to exit your mouth without hurting yourself. This aspect therefore leads me to my next point that fire always fuels the fire. If you are angry or answer the caller in an angry tone, this just creates more anger, abuse and negativity, which then leads to a battle of egos and an even greater fight. If one is controlled and relaxed, it becomes easier to say a simple “Thank you for calling but I do not require this service”. These are the words that should be on your lips each time you receive an unwanted call. Another important aspect to remember is BREATHE! concentrate on what the caller is saying and trying to sell, breathe during the process and forget about your anger and how nasty you can possibly be. Instead of answering in the worst possible way, allow yourself a moment to breathe, relax, listen to what the person is saying to you, think of a decent response that serves both of you and then deliver the answer and lastly do not shout or strain your voice!
I realize that this is easier said than done. It takes practice and most of all self control. Imagine you have a continuum where the middle is zero or a neutral position. On either side of the zero you have a minus ten being very relaxed and ten refers to an irate or a very excited person. You need to always be on the zero or neutral mark. This shows your ability to control your thoughts, verbal and non-verbal communication and your ability to sway the caller in a calmer and more neutral position. It may seem more fun to rant and rave so that the person puts the phone down on you. Just remember that the person is just doing his or her job and does not deserve to be spoken to badly or in a negative tone. Not only are you developing a negative impression of yourself, but you are also potentially straining and damaging your voice.
Your pitch, instead of being to high or low, needs to be at a middle level. The power within your voice should not be exerted, although your voice needs to sound firm, fair and always decent. Pause at times in order to create an effect. Remember that the person also needs to have time to understand what you are telling him or her. The rate at which you speak can also positively or negatively affect a person’s view of you. For example, imagine you receive a phone call from a person selling a cellular phone package. The pace at which the person speaks to you is so quick that you can hardly understand what is being said. Usually, you would ask the person to repeat the phrase, put the phone down or immediately tell the person in a very abrupt tone that you are not interested and to never call you again. You are therefore bombarded by these quick words and sentences and the fact that someone is trying to sell you something that you become very overwhelmed and just burst. Instead of doing this, which is counter productive, decently ask the person to either repeat what the person said or make a joke about the fast paced speech.
This then relaxes the situation and the person will probably repeat what he or she said, but with a slower pace. The last section we will analyse is inflection. This focuses on the gentle rise and fall of the voice within the pitch. I like to compare this to the vibrato often used by singers. Be sure to add some inflection into your voice, but once you over-inflect your voice, it becomes unbearable for a person to listen to.
In short, relax, breathe, be yourself. Remember that you are your own brand and image and through your actions and the manner in which you speak and address others, you can either positively or negatively impact this image. Always speak clearly and be kind to others as you will always be rewarded in return in one way or another.
Michelle is the founder of Talkwell Communications and a speech and communication specialist working with companies and individuals in South Africa and internationally.