#4 from the list of seven changes

Speak softly instead of loudly

I have found that speaking louder has never helped me get anyone’s attention, nor has it helped to get a point across. A loud voice reminds me of all the colourful balloons and flags that a store puts out on the sidewalk when business is not good, trying to get folks to notice. The store is soon out of business anyway. The loud flags are a last-ditch effort to gain attention, but not good attention.  All the flags in the world won’t change what’s inside the store.  It just screams “going out of business because no one wants to shop here.” It’s a way of making everyone that goes by feel like they are cared about only for their money.

Now, to speak-up when a crowd of people are trying to hear me, is a totally different story. I’m thinking about looking at my tone and my timing, allowing for a softer voice in my daily conversation.

I need to fight the urge to interrupt and speak-over people to say something…because otherwise i forget what i wanted to say if i wait. And now i am thinking that perhaps what i have to say is not as important as continuing to listen. Because how a person is spoken to matters just as much, if not more, than what is being said. What is powerful, is how the other person is made to feel. How one is made to feel can, by itself, wipe out anything that is said, can take the place of words, or can make a person either want to hear words or make them not want to hear them at all.

I think that waiting until a time that a softer voice can be used is a way of showing respect toward another person. A soft tone can express caring to the other person. And i think that the other person can feel this care very deeply.


photo from flickr

19 thoughts on “softly

  1. Wayne

    This is a splendid reflection. I have gotten softer in tone with my students over the years. One of the things I am most happy about when I reflect on who I have become

    1. nancy Post author

      Over the years. Those are the words that stand out to me. It reminds me of how we are slowly being changed, and can be seen upon reflection.

  2. beth

    Thinking. My ex would say things at a calm, regular decibel level. I would get frustrated and yell. I came out looking like the bad one, but most times what he said in that level tone was much harsher, meaner, and soul-crushing than anything I ever yelled. But my daughter remembers my yelling and not his cruelty.

    1. nancy Post author

      This is interesting. My father never showed his nasty side in public, when he was less than kind to my mom. And he was very likable around everyone else. My mom put up with a lot of crap from him. But, since i didn’t see what was happening until i was older, i didn’t understand my mom’s anger and bitterness until i was older. Though i did take on the anger and bitterness in the learning. They had their problems, and thought they could hide it. but, children see and learn. And i didn’t understand why i chose mates and felt the way i did. But, now i get it.

      So, it really does make a difference if the soft voice says words that are cunning and mean or words that are kind and Loving. Cutting words go very deep.

      1. beth

        My ex was always wonderful in public too. We put on quite a show and thus it shocked the community when the marriage ended.
        There were times I wished he’d hit me instead of the wall; then people would see the marks and know that he was not so wonderful.

  3. S. Etole

    My parents were soft-spoken; I can’t remember them ever raising their voices at either my brother or myself, yet we knew to listen to what they had to say.

    1. nancy Post author

      Parents fall into this all the time. And it seems the more a parent yells the less the child listens. My sister raised three boys, and the way she used her voice changed a lot. It is still sharp and loud much of the time no matter what. But, i think that it comes in handy where she works now, in a place where she cares for older folks, and most of them have a hard time hearing. Her boys pretty much stopped listening to her, as she often used a loud voice in anger and frustration. Now they are all grown and have moved away. But, since i did not live close to her, and still don’t, when i visit she totally scares me when she yells at her cat. I just about jump through the ceiling.

    1. nancy Post author

      An open heart.
      When this is lost, is the soul not also lost? Is it not death?
      We are all very much like a store. Fill and pour, fill and pour.
      Care needs to be there. Our heart needs to remain open to one another.

  4. Megan Willome

    I have developed a bad habit of speaking over people because my husband and his whole family do it. I am at my best (and quietest) when interviewing people. I need to carry that into my daily life and not just my professional life.

    1. nancy Post author

      I find it a really easy thing to do, especially when a few people are together talking about something of interest to all. Or when one is frustrated and tired. I like the thought of the interviewing position and think that it could help me to remember.

  5. Maureen

    Never a more apt time for your post, as today is International Caps Locks Day.

    Seriously, though, this is a wonderful subject, with a lot of cultural aspects to it. You make many good points. Imagine if, as you do, everyone cared enough to make his or her listeners feel heard. Imagine if we had a system where those running for office were interested in informing us instead of putting each other down. Imagine if no one was disrespected for expressing a viewpoint with which a listener disagreed. Imagine if you could have a conversation over dinner in a restaurant where the decibel level did not exceed 85.

    A psychologist I know urges that whenever you feel your listener isn’t paying attention and expects you to raise your voice, speak even more softly, and then you’ll learn just how much the person wants to hear what you have to say.

    1. nancy Post author

      That’s funny. I had no idea it was ICLD.

      I like your imagine ifs. I’m really going for the one about not being disrespected for expressing a viewpoint that is disagreed with.

      And i like the psychologist’s advice. Gonna try that one.


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