Last month, we talked about the words we use and how powerful they are.
This month, we’re going to take it to the next level.
So there’s a famous study that was done a while ago by Dr. Albert Mehrabian, that showed that only 7% of our communication is conveyed through words, 38% is from our vocal tonality, and the rest (55%) is through ‘nonverbal elements,’ such as your posture, gestures, and facial expressions.
Based on what I wrote in my last article, I believe that our words represent a lot more than only 7%, but that’s not what this article is going to be about. No, in this article, we’re going to get into that other stuff – specifically: Tonality – HOW we say what we say.
Call me crazy for trying to write about something you HEAR. Obviously, this would be a lot easier for me to demonstrate in a video, or on an audio recording. But we don’t have that luxury here, so I’ll just have to flex my writin’ skills!
Have you ever watched a movie in another language that you didn’t understand? With no subtitles? Did you watch the actors closely? You almost didn’t need a translation of what they were saying. You can tell by the tone of their voices who’s angry with whom, who’s jealous of someone, who wants to kill the other guy, or who wants to jump someone’s bones!
There’s a scene in the famous 80’s movie, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” where a history teacher (played by Ben Stein) is trying to teach a class of uninspired students about economic policy. Not the most exciting, sexy subject to teach, but he made it exceptionally boring by the way he used his voice! He had a flat, monotone style that had very little to no inflection whatsoever. The result: Everyone was asleep or looking at him cross-eyed, because they were so bored!
What makes a speech interesting? What makes it hard for you to tear yourself away from a good performance by an actor, or a powerful motivational speech by someone? Is it just the subject matter? Or the words they use? Probably not.
No, chances are that when you’re riveted to someone speaking – about anything – you’re probably interested because of the tonality and vocal inflection of their VOICE!
What the heck is tonality? The easiest, simplest definition is: The tone of your voice. But it’s really a lot more than that. Just by injecting the right emotion into your voice, you can drastically change the entire context and meaning of what you’re saying. You can have a commanding tone. Your tone can be whining. Or condescending. Happy. Or sad.
One of my favorite tonalities to use is one of curiosity. It’s so FUN to use a ‘curious’ tone when talking with someone – especially in a sales situation, because it really engages the listener and activates some really cool psychology. Try it!
Here’s a little pro tip, combined with a mini script that gets great results in real estate investing. The next time you’re talking with a seller about the possibility of doing a terms deal, say this next line with a curious tone when you want to introduce your objective: “What if there was a way that we could…” (then state what you want to do)
The next technique is vocal inflection. That’s where we emphasize certain words in order to stress their importance. It’s easy to do when writing – just italicize a word. Or put it in ALL capitals. Or make the word you want to stand out in bold.
But when we’re talking, it’s important to occasionally emphasize a certain word in your sentence in order to not only get your main point across, but also to vary the cadence of what you’re saying so that it’s more engaging to the listener.
For example, say this sentence out loud: “Bob thinks he’s a genius.” See how we emphasize the word ‘thinks?’ Now say the same sentence, but emphasize the word ‘genius.’ And one more time, but now emphasize ‘Bob.’ See? Totally different meaning every time!
Most of us never ever even think about these subtle little conversational nuances. And most people just take them for granted every day. But once you understand these little secrets, you’ll quickly start to see why some people are pleasant and effective communicators, while the rest…? Not so much.
Before we go any further, I should point out something important: These ‘powers’ can be used for good or for evil. Should you become interested in learning more, then eventually commit yourself to mastering this craft, you’ll be able to understand how people use their voice to influence other people by speaking directly to their subconscious mind. This is the part of our brain that determines how we feel, think, and act about things – without even realizing it!
But for now, just be aware. Start by listening for it when you watch a movie. Or listen to a news reporter (they’re especially evil these days!)
HOW you use your voice will have a LOT to do with how successful you’ll be. So if you really want to have success, and part of that relies on speaking with anyone, you’re going to need to master these skills the best you can. And one of the best ways to do that is to model the most successful communicators. Especially salespeople. Sell or be sold. That’s your choice.
And now that you know how the game is played, you finally have the power to choose which side you’ll be on. Choose wisely, my friend.
So there you have it! When you use the right words and combine them with great vocal tonality and inflection, you’ll have the raw tools needed for some seriously dynamic and powerful communication. With that, you’ll be able to influence just about anybody you talk to – often without them even knowing what you’re doing. Yes, this can be used for dealing with anyone from sellers, buyers, and bankers, to brothers, mothers, and kids, etc.
Please use these new ‘super powers’ responsibly. For good. Because if you don’t, you’ll have to listen to Ben Stein teach you all about ‘voodoo economics,’ and that’s just not sexy at all.