Communication & Behavioral Facilitator
Center for Behavioral Excellence team,
Talent Transformation, Wipro Ltd.
The ‘Loud’ Speaker
“…MY MOTHER IN LAW IS COMING THIS WEEKEND! I’M BUYING HER A BLENDER… I GOT SO MANY GOOD DEALS ON AMAZON … IT’LL BE DELIVERED TODAY…”
Have you ever been forced to listen to a daily update of what goes on in a stranger’s house – while you’re hard at work? Have you found yourself to be more in tune to their daily activities than to your own tasks? Or maybe, have you found yourself trying to rush to the office a little early to get work done?
If your answer is an emotional, fierce, “YES!” – Hurrah! I can help you here.
The problem you’re facing right now, could be that of the toxic loud speaker. It can be very frustrating to handle. These situations can turn unnecessarily awkward, since most of us try to avoid conflict at the office, or perhaps, most colleagues do not appreciate the anguish your problem brings you. I have often wondered to myself: How can anyone be so inconsiderate? How many times can I voice my displeasure without seeming rude? Why is this not bothering anyone else!? I remember when I tried to talk about one such situation at work, and a colleague of mine joked that he carried around a pair of ear-plugs to beat the noise. Another colleague suggested I simply ignore the disturbance and ‘tune it out’.
Can you imagine my surprise when I learnt that a large segment of our working professionals have never been taught the difference of an indoor voice and an outdoor voice? In fact, most are astonishingly unaware of its impact in defining ones professional image. For the uninitiated, here’s a simple list of Speech Etiquette I like to keep in mind:
- Lower, is better
No matter how challenging a situation might get, keep your tone & volume even. Our voice was meant to reach hearts, not cover large distances. It is always best to simply walk up to your target audience before initiating a conversation. Cursing loudly is only going to emphasis your shortcomings. Research indicates that we enjoy listening to deep, low voices. It brings with it, feelings of professionalism, warmth and trust. So, lower, is always better.
- First Ask, Then Share
If you’d like to indulge someone with an update, or to share some good news, ensure to first check if it’s a good time. Most people do not like to interrupt someone who is speaking – and are gloomily forced to accept that unplanned distraction.
- Classify Your Conversations (…to be? Or not to be?)
I once read that it helps to pretend that your largest customer is omnipresent. This will help you identify which conversations need to be had at your desk and which ones can be taken outside. Speech etiquette recommends that any personal conversation is taken outdoors to ensure no one is disturbed.
- Call Handling 101
A phone call is between you and your caller.
However, the recent trend is to put clients on speaker while their issues are worked on. This is a violation of privacy, both for your client and your neighboring colleagues. Booking a conference room or using a headset, could be a better option.
- To be loud, is to be dominating
Have you met someone who constantly dominates a conversation with their overbearing voice? Most often the sudden loud, shocks people into silence. If you’ve been privileged with a powerful voice – use it to make a difference. Refining yourself to maintain a low tone, is a definite plus.
- Appreciate, before you interrupt
Speech etiquette suggests that interruptions can be rude, but there are occasions when interruptions are essential to reach a destination. When you realize that an interruption is crucial, it is polite to start with an appreciation. For instance; “That was insightful Sam. Thank you! I also wanted to add that… ”
While changing some behaviors seem hard – being considerate has its rewards. My mother has always told me, it takes two hands to clap. And I firmly believe that is the case here too. To the victims of the ‘loud’, here are a few tips to help ease into a more understanding mindset. While these may seem commonplace, a gentle reminder never hurt anybody:
- Changing for a stranger, is hard!
Change is difficult and is often treated as an unwelcome guest. Expecting somebody to change because it bothers you, can seem like a big ask from a person who knows so little about you. It is important to keep in mind that while one person’s antics seem unusual to you, you in turn, seem peculiar to them.
- Relationships and change go hand-in-hand
I have learnt that if I have to ask someone to change a small habit that comes from one of the biggest parts of their lives (their upbringing), I have to really earn that right. I’ve got to build a relationship with them. Have you noticed how a cup of tea can get anyone to unwind? It’s possible that that tea is all you need to build your connect!
Research indicates that people are more likely to listen to someone they trust or like. Notice how easy it is for your family or a friend to sway you while you make a decision. This is only because we value the relationships we have and are more open to considering their views.
- What seems bizarre to you, is home to someone else
It may not always be possible to understand someone who is so different from us – but it is certainly possible to influence them. A small trick to initiate change is to move people only slightly out of their comfort zone. For instance, the words “I need to speak to you… ”. These create a feeling of curiosity, a sense of urgency and just the right amount of discomfort.
- Appreciation goes a long way
We are able to see in others, things they do not see in themselves. Regrettably, the differences we possess, blind us to what they contribute to the big picture. I only recently discovered, the greatest strength of my loud speaker, is his ability to handle the ugliest situations with a clear, fore planned outcome. When we choose NOT to acknowledge a good quality – we choose to be handicapped.
The next time someone gets on your last nerve, ask yourself this – Are they doing it to annoy you? Or is that the only way they know how? The morals we project within our social circles define our identities and can help widen our professional relationships. Have you done your part to encourage change? Is change really needed? – How about a little understanding instead …?