A Voice of Influence...from Carl Tinsley
Carl is Behavioural Safety and Behavioural Leadership professional specialising in applying the latest neurosciences research to reduce Human Errors and develop effective Safety Leaders.
Carl combines his work in Behavioural Safety, Behavioural Leadership , Hypnotherapy and Trainer of NLP, to provide practical and cutting edge content he delivers using the same techniques he teaches. This makes for a compelling training session where people walk away having practiced their new skills.
Carl currently has training assignments in Cleveland, London, Perth and Brisbane.
A down to earth trainer, Carl specialises in building group rapport to ensure the learning audience gets every iota of benefit they can from each session.
If you have influence, you may not realise it. But if you don’t, you often recognise it like a slap in the face when your opinions are heard but not listened to, when your ideas are acknowledged but not considered. The fact is, that hurts.
A lot has been written lately about Influence, what we need to do to attain it, and more importantly express it. Michael Grinder, in his book Cats and Dogs, the Art of Relationships examines Influence at a deeper level. In this post, I’ll start with Michael’s work, expand on it, and apply it to the field of influence, particularly for women, in Health and Safety.Michael talks about two types of people, Cats and Dogs. Using his analogy, Cats are Influential people, with a Credible style of communicating. Their style suits giving instructions and the way the speak means they get listened to. People pay attention when they speak. On the other hand, Dogs have an Approachable style, they are people who are best suited to gathering information, by asking questions and network building. Approachable people often set the scene for Credible people to speak and influence. I think both aspects are critical for Safety Professionals, but often developing the Credible voice is more elusive for women. The importance of this for Women in Safety is that naturally, about 80% of women have communication mechanics (voice, paralinguistics) that align with the Approachable style. Whereas about 80% of men’s style aligns with the Credible style. This also means that about 20% of women have the credible style too. Just consider for a moment, the number of women in senior leadership roles globally, whilst it is expanding, it is still about 20% of the total. Coincidence or not?
Humans are social animals, we follow leaders that make us feel safe and whom we trust. Our biology, and this is supported by a plethora of research, shows that we trust Credible communication styles more than Approachable styles. We naturally and unconsciously follow Credible people. In other words, they become our Leaders. So, what is the difference between the two and can you change? Having been one of the 20% of men with a naturally Approachable voice, I now know there are two key Credible areas women need to work on to have more influence in safety.
Your Voice: Deeper voices are more influential. To improve your voice, focus on speaking from the bottom of your lungs. Aim for resonance in your voice, think of George Clooney as a great example of resonance. Put your hand on your chest, speak a long “hummmm” and feel for vibration. If it is not “resonating” you have a great opportunity to improve it. Our ancestors aligned with deep voice leaders probably because their vocals were used to keep threats at bay. To help with resonance and projection, speak with a full lung of air and a relaxed diaphragm. Tension is the killer of a Credible voice. It is not easy to get rid of that tension, but it is the key to a great voice.
The Paralinguistics: I think that any person, no matter how high their natural tone is, can improve their paralinguistics. This relates to the intonation, inflection, emphasis, stretching, squeezing and primarily the “emotional content” of our words. Approachable voices are friendlier and easier to listen to – think Flight Attendant and Weather Person on the TV. Approachable voices have a variable tone, and an up and down cadence. They often end on an upward note as if we are asking a question. Many foreigners often think Australians are always asking questions because many of our voices raise in tone at the end of a sentence. “Hey”!
Credible voices are flatter and deeper in tone. They have three key characteristics. Firstly, they emphasise key words in a sentence by varying in pitch or tone, varying a key word’s projection, by “squeeeeezing” or “streeeetching” words. Secondly, Credible voices emphasise Consonants. Singers focus on the vowels. Influencers focus on the consonants. A consonant is any vocal sound where we restrict our air flow to make the sound. Think hard “k” and hard “b”. In fact, I think Consonants are the Influencers key tool. Practice really ProJeCting and emphasising your consonants. And, thirdly, Credible people end their statements or sentence with a deeper tone than the rest of the sentence. For those of you with enough years behind you think “Peter Harvey, Canberra” as a great example of this drop in tone. This is the classic “credible” paralinguistic pattern. News Reporters and Pilots are often great examples of Credible voices. To practice my credible voice, while driving I would mimic the News Readers on ABC Radio. Boring I know – but it worked!
Another key Paralinguistic feature that relates to Credible – Influential people is the power of the Pause. Pausing is the most influential non – verbal technique you can use. Pausing before key points and “letting it drop”, pausing after key points, pausing between sentences, are all techniques easily learned. But if you are naturally a fast talker, like me, they can be difficult to master. Pausing is the fast talker’s best friend as it gives listeners time to digest what you just said.
Your voice and your paralinguistics are all things you can develop. They are skills we need to practice and no matter how good our voice is, we can always make it better. It is the safety professional’s principal tool! You are worth investing in it. We all know people who have made it to Senior positions without the necessary credentials – maybe they just Talk the Talk. If you want a great example of a woman who changed her voice, find some old YouTube clips of Hilary Clinton and then compare her voice to more recent clips. What doors will open for you when you match your credentials and experience with both Approachable and Credible communication styles? Perhaps big doors will open.
If you like this post, connect with Carl on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/carl-e-tinsley-2559a334.
Or email him at email@example.com www.breakingground.com.au
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