Audible Sound Speaks Volumes


Gidget + Gizmo

A few weeks ago, I took our two cats, Gidget and Gizmo, to a new veterinarian for their shots and grooming. As I described each cat’s personality and disposition to the doctor, I heard an audible sound: “Hmmmmm…” What caught my attention was his tone. It was audible enough for me to hear (loud) and extended (long). It started higher and ended on a low note. “Hmmmmm…” It wasn’t just the sound…it was how it sounded to me. He continued making this sound several times within a matter of minutes. The sound seemed to be made at almost an unconscious rather than conscious level. Translation: I had some concerns. Did I bring my cats to the right vet? Could he help them? Was he reluctant to perform the tasks I was paying him for?

It’s not just what you say…it’s how you say it that conveys attitude and feeling. In his research and 1981 book, Silent Messages, noted communication scholar Albert Mehrabian reported that people convey feelings and attitudes in face-to-face communication through three main components: words, tone of voice and nonverbal behavior (like facial expressions). Mehrabian further described how important it is that your verbal (words) and nonverbal (tone of voice and facial expressions) language are congruent, or aligned, to accurately convey the message you intend. When there is incongruence between the verbal and nonverbal, people will turn to or trust the nonverbal behavior for meaning.

This brings me back to my experience with the vet. His tone conveyed to me messages like “I’m not sure about this.” “I’m a little concerned.” “Let me think this over before we do anything.” Although he didn’t say a word, my interpretation of his underlying message came through his tone of voice, audible exhaling and his facial expressions, like furrowed brows, pursed lips and squinted eyes.

Do a quick self-assessment of your verbal and nonverbal communication to make sure you are sending the right messages:

Are you unconsciously (or consciously) using audible sounds as you convey messages to others?

What message does your tone convey?

Are you sending mixed messages?

Is your verbal and nonverbal language congruent to ensure clear meaning?

Elevate Your Visibility

market-visibilityHow visible are you? Visibility gets you noticed by others. If you received a job offer, got a promotion, or just landed a huge account with a new client, it happened because you were visible; people know about your skills and talents. Your level of visibility helps to position you. Even if you are a quiet, mild-mannered individual who plays more of a behind-the-scenes role, your actions still position you in the minds of others.

Consider most political campaigns. What is an underlying theme? What is the strategy to boost visibility? What specific markets are being targeted, such as senior citizens, women, religious groups, new parents, educators or Blue Collar workers? If you follow any political campaign, its success is often measured by how visibile the candidate is in certain markets (or states), which of course translates into a certain percentage of votes.

What kind of campaign would you launch to improve your visibility? Here are a few examples: If you want to become better known in your business community, expand your business contacts across diverse industries or attend highly visible community events. If you want to be considered for a board position in a prestigious organization, begin by volunteering to serve on a committee, then chair the committee, and work your way up in the organization. If you want to  become a leader within your company, ask for and accept  more challenging project work. One of the easiest ways to enhance your visibility is to let people know you are interested. That way, when a greater opportunity comes along, they will think of you. Don’t passively wait for the telephone to ring. If you want something, let people know you want it! Here are a few questions to jump-start your thinking:

How visible are you?

How can your improve your visibility?

What specific strategies can you put in place to elevate your visibility?

Lessons From Joan Rivers

joan_rivers_televisionShe had us in stitches for decades with her signature phrases like “Can we talk?” and “Oh, you don’t know!” With the recent passing of Joan Rivers, people are learning much more about the feisty blonde from Brooklyn. Behind every jab or zinger was a woman who truly loved life, warts and all. In fact, it was the warts that were the most memorable. Through it all were some simple life lessons. Here are just a few.

Politeness doesn’t pay. What did pay was her uncanny ability to discuss issues that nobody else would dare to talk about. Whether it was talking about a specific body part or fabricating a news flash, she would find a way to deliver her signature humor with great confidence and chutzpah. No topic was taboo to her.

Be an original. We hear a lot about the importance of authenticity and being yourself. Some of it is just babble. With Joan Rivers, she was the real deal. She not only walked the talk. She had swagger. While she attended a prestigious private college, she was the very antithesis of that lifestyle. There was nothing about her that was snooty or unapproachable. She didn’t put on airs. She was real.

Don’t take yourself too seriously. She encountered tremendous highs and lows in her life and in her career. She learned from life’s lessons and became the Queen of Self-Deprecating Humor. She reminded us all to laugh our way through life, to laugh at ourselves and to not take ourselves too seriously. I can hear her saying, “Oh, get over yourself!”

Do what you love and do it well. She felt most comfortable in front of an audience. It gave her tremendous energy and joy. She poured herself into everything she did. It didn’t matter what Joan did – stand-up comedy, (first female) late night talk show host, red carpet television critic, reality TV diva, Fashion Police TV show host or selling her fashion merchandise on QVC – she gave it her all and did it well.

Work hard, and smell those roses. It is well known throughout the comedy industry that Joan Rivers possessed an amazing work ethic. She worked hard. She also made time for her family. She worked side by side with her daughter, Melissa, as co-star in their reality show and as producer/co-producer in television ventures. She cherished her grandson and her close friends and always found time to have a conversation.

Be young at heart. When Joan Rivers won The Celebrity Apprentice 2 a few years back, she proved an important point: No matter what age you are, you can accomplish anything you set out to do. She ran circles around people half her age.

Small (just 5’2″) and mighty, Joan Rivers was a pathfinder for women and for female comics. No one will ever replace her. She will remain in our hearts forever.

Charlie Chaplin said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” Thankfully, Joan Rivers never wasted a day.




E is for Energize Yourself

Part 7 in this B-A-L-A-N-C-E Your Life Series.

Cradle of lightHave you ever felt like you could not take one step further, do one more task, because you didn’t have the energy to do it? Part of living a balanced life is knowing when to listen to your body when it is hinting – or screaming – that you need to take a break and recharge yourself.

How you get your energy has a lot to do with your psychological type. The work of noted Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung and later the mother-daughter team Catharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, co-creators of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) revealed that we humans get our energy in two different ways. Extraverts who are more outgoing and talkative get their energy from other people and being out in the world. In fact, if they go for a day or two without contact with other people, they feel like they are missing something. Conversely, introverts who tend to be more solitary or isolated re-energize themselves by not being around other people as much. Instead, they choose to find a quiet place for reflection, reading, contemplation or meditation. Introverts are the ones who will frequently say “I’m peopled out and I need some peace and quiet.”

What is the source of your energy? How to you re-energize yourself when you are running on empty? You will know if you are an introvert or extravert by identifying where your energy comes from.

For extraverts, when you need to re-energize, you may throw a party, invite a friend or friends to dinner, take a vacation that includes group activities, like taking a cruise or tour. For introverts, when you need to re-energize, you may take a quiet walk on the beach in the early morning, schedule a self-organized retreat or enjoy a relaxing massage (with no conversation from the massotherapist, of course).

I know what you’re thinking. What if… What if the person you live with, work with or are best friends with is the exact opposite of you? This requires meeting each other halfway and finding a mutually acceptable way to co-exist. Extraverts are the true energizer bunnies. They can go on and on forever. They may not understand why an introvert wants to go back to the room to get freshened up or even take a nap. It’s up to you – whether extravert or introvert – to educate your pals, co-workers and co-habitants what you need to feel balanced. In the end, you will feel better and your friends will be glad you opened up the conversation on the topic.

Have you encountered moments in your life when you had to use lots of energy from your reserves? You were moving into a new house (and became “Super Cleaner Person” for the weekend). You assisted a loved one who was going through the loss of a loved one (and you turned into a 24/7 service person, doing everything from cooking and cleaning to consoling and even running errands). When you got through that period of time, you said to yourself in amazement, “How did I do that?” or “I don’t know where that energy came from…I just did it.” When these experiences come into your life, what moves you through that space and time is intentional energy focus. You are focused on making it through that period by doing whatever it takes. You can adopt this mindset and become more intentional about how you are using your energy each day.

How you move your energy affects your sense of well-being. Every living thing possesses energy or “chi” as it’s called in Eastern traditions. Depending on how you are living your life, your energy is either flowing or is blocked. When your energy is flowing, you feel alive, at peace, connected and everything you do feels almost effortless. You’re “in the groove” of life. On the other hand, when your energy is blocked, you can feel out of balance, conflicted, anxious or frustrated. For every step you take forward, you feel like you are taking ten backwards. Nothing in your life has a rhythm or flow to it. When you recognize this, you can focus on unblocking the barriers and get your energy flowing again. A popular way to move energy through the body is through frequent yoga practice. You don’t have to be an advanced yoga practitioner to obtain health benefits from this ancient tradition. Begin as you would any course – as a beginner – and gradually work your way towards proficiency. An excellent source for helpful articles on yoga and energy work is the Yoga Journal. You may also turn to professionals in your area who are certified to do energy work to help you unblock those barriers.

When you encounter obstacles or barriers that interrupt your energy flow, take the time to ask yourself “What do I need to do to re-energize myself?” and “How can I give my mind, body and spirit the energy needed so that I can prolong my sense of well-being?” Listen to your body. It’s always right.