Tone Of Voice

Tone and emphasis are important in conversation. Emphasis involves

inflection (such as, when asking a question, putting the emphasis at the end of the sentence)

speed (when nervous we tend to speak faster)

volume (increasing volume gives emphasis)

pausing (can give a dramatic impact)

breathing (if nervous it is frequent and shallow; it is best if the speaker breathes slowly and deeply)

. Identical words can be delivered in so many variations, due to the huge range of vocal elements. For example:

"...That's mine..."

This can be delivered as an assertive statement, or as a question if rising inflection occurs at the end of the sentence.

Another example:

"... I didn't say she stole my money..."

i) "... I didn't say she stole my money..." (but someone said it)

ii) "... I didn't say she stole my money..." (I definitely didn't say it)

iii) "... I didn't say she stole my money..." (but I implied it)

iv) "... I didn't say she stole my money..." (but someone stole it)

v) "... I didn't say she stole my money..." (but she did something with it)

vi) "... I didn't say she stole my money..." (she stole someone else's money)

vii) "... I didn't say she stole my money..." (she took something else)

Seven different meanings can be conveyed without changing one syllable, but merely deciding which syllables to emphasize.

. Tone of voice is an important part of communications: by speaking harshly you can convey anger; or sympathy is suggested by speaking softly. An inappropriate tone may generate a counter‐productive signal in the listener; unless you hear the words said, you can't possibly assess accurately what is meant by a given comment.

. Linked with tone are volume and rate of verbal responses, ie

"...verbal tones create an emotional atmosphere. Generally, if you mimic the tone, volume and rate of the verbal responses of the person you are talking to, he or she will be more likely to feel understood. The tone of your voice can change from a low to a high tone, or from a relaxed to a tense tone. The optimum tone is one that is produced and heard without straining. The rate of your speech involves how many words you use in a response and also the frequency and duration of pauses between comments. To demonstrate that you ready what to listen to another you can pause slightly when they stop speaking to see if they want to continue. A rapid speech rate response can increase the tension in a conversation that may be unwanted. By contrast, slowing your speech right down has the effect of taking the emotional temperature down, too..."

Martyn Newman, 2007

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