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Watch Your Tone with Me!

Conscious Communication: bringing communication up from "auto-pilot" and reactive, to thoughtful, responsive, and above all, intentional.

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Quick Communication Tip

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Watch Your Tone with Me!
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Although I often concentrate on linguistics revealing our worldviews and the worldviews of others, let’s not ignore the 800 pound gorilla in the room called “tone.”

Along with body language, tone has great impact on our communication. Even the lack of tone in e-mail causes its own misunderstandings. Conversationally, you’ve felt how tone affects you. Yelling hits you differently than cooing. The sound itself carries its own energy. Shout at your pet how much you love him or her and watch as they duck or run. Warmly, sweetly coo how much you can’t stand them and they’ll purr or wag their tail. We’re not so far up the ladder from our pets. We share a lot of biology.

Before our cerebral cortex gets a chance to start processing words and language, the carrier waves (sound) have already impacted the flight-or-fight part of our brain called the hypothalamus. If there is congruence between word and tone, we process faster. If there is incongruence, the information is passed to secondary systems. Now we’re trying to figure out which is accurate, and if there’s a threat. All of that extra work takes energy away from processing the initial message. This means the initial message gets diluted and changed by the over-processing (just like food).

We usually maintain congruence in tone and message when we’re being conscious about it. When we’re not, our message can be taken off course. Have you ever experienced somebody snapping at you about something that had nothing to do with you? That extra processing, where you try to figure out why this person is mad at you takes you away from hearing their actual words.

We’re probably all guilty of giving as well as receiving that mixed message. Ever get interrupted by someone just as you hit your thumb with a hammer (or the equivalent?) They’re likely to hear about it as if it was their fault - and then we apologize afterward.

That might be an extreme example, but the fact is: enough of our communication gets trashed by our tone to be worthy of attention. We can so easily solve the problem with added consciousness that it becomes almost irresponsible not to do so.

Remember Before You React
Chapter 26 in “Kind Ambition” explores this concept more completely, but one piece of it is directly related to tone. When we speak without thinking, our words and tone fly like debris from a lawn mower. The odds of actually communicating what you intend to communicate make for a bad bet.

Taking a second to pause, choose your words, remember the real person you’re addressing, and choose your tone accordingly will greatly enhance your interactions. This will enable you to communicate more effectively, without all the reactions that take over; and take you both off track.

If I’m doing my taxes, frustrated and maybe annoyed, and you call me on the phone, I can either mindlessly grab the phone and answer with all the annoyance and frustration in my voice, or take a second to compose myself before I begin the interaction with you. It’s a conscious choice.

Smiley faces?!
Here’s something you can do right now that always has a positive affect on both you and whoever you’re interacting with: smile. I’m not saying “grin like a fool.” Just smile. Merely smiling (even on the inside) has a powerful impact on your physiological state and biochemistry. It’s very difficult to be cranky when you’re smiling; your body just won’t let you.

Likewise, when you’re on the phone with someone, they can tell if you’re smiling or not. Your tone gives you away, and the conversation can take a more positive path.

Try yelling at yourself in the mirror while you’re smiling. You’ll crack yourself up. Following that, notice your feeling/thinking/being state. Your mood will be elevated, regardless of how you were feeling before. This is just one tiny way you can consciously shift your biochemistry and subsequent mood.

The best part is it’s contagious, rather like a yawn (perhaps just one more place where
Mirror Neurons in the brain have their impact). Remembering that we can shift our mood and the mood of those around us, merely by smiling and being conscious of our tone, gives us more power and control of our interactions than we might have believed possible. So have some fun with this, and see how you can make things a little more positive for yourself, and those around you. Use a positive, smiling tone, and watch what happens.


Quick Communication Tip

That Face in the Mirror
Countless studies have been done observing significant changes in people’s behavior when there is either a mirror or a closed-circuit image of them in view. Most of these studies indicate a significant uptick in people’s honesty, integrity, and commitment.

Not to invoke an epidemic of vanity, but perhaps you could see what happens when you have a mirror handy when you’re making phone calls or talking with people. As you dial that number, or before answering the phone, take a second to look in the mirror and smile. Maybe go all out and make a silly face at yourself that cracks you up.

Then when you’re talking with them, keep that smile going. Check the mirror every once in a while to see if you’re still smiling. Notice how the call goes. Notice the tenure and “feel” of the conversation. According to some very real science, you will most likely notice very positive results. The worst case scenario is feeling a little better. Not bad.

Want to learn more about how your communication can hold you back or catapult you forward?  Come visit the web site, or better yet, contact me and see how we can design a program to fit your needs and desired outcomes.


Resource Links:

Conscious Communication - the podcast series

KG Stiles: "Conversations that Enlighten and Heal"
Ian Blei on Kind Ambition and the
Integram (TM)

Personal Life Media - "Coaching the Life Coach:"
Communication Excellence (Podcast Snippets)
Communication Excellence (full interview)

Interview Podcast for Evolutionary Radio w/ J. McClain

Kind Ambition -
2nd Edition now available

Got Blog? c
ome visit the Blog.

Character Driven - Ever want to create characters that were so believable, that people forgot they were characters?



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The Optimizer
Ian Blei,
Director of the
Institute for Integral Enneagram Studies and
President of
Optimized Results



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Kind Ambition:
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 Without Losing Your Soul



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Kind Ambition is about you having the tools to slide over to the driver’s seat of your own life.  Circumstances will always be changing, seemingly thwarting our plans, but we don’t have to be  thrown around by them. You can be in charge of your choices and actions more than you might imagine - yet.


Kind Ambition is written for you, as a practical guide you can use right now.  It is a collection of  insights and actions designed to help you move forward and get more out of your life at home and at work.  The chapters hold to a formula of first giving you a new way to look at things, then offering you tangible Action Steps to try them out, and finally some things to notice when you do.





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