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The Power Of The Spoken Word

September 28, 2017 Nicole Lyons

Have you ever thought about the tone of voice that you use for different things? When you see a puppy or a cute, smiling baby, do you resort to a high-pitched ‘lovey’ voice? Or maybe if you see someone about to drop something, do you use an urgent, intense ‘warning’ voice?

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The language that we use and the tone of our voices can have a profound impact on the people and animals around us. Using language that builds other up can have a positive effect on yourself, too.

Using science to try to understand
language and emotions

You learned to speak by emulating the people around you when you were a small child. We pick up on emotional cues, even at an early age. Science is using technology to take a closer look at how our brains function when we communicate.

Current findings suggest that the emotions expressed in spoken words are processed quickly with a ‘fast route’ to the amygdala, which is the integrative centre for motivation and emotional behaviour.

Emotional patterns that occur over a larger time scale seem to be processed by a slower, more indirect route. More research is needed to understand the interactions between language and emotions, but the future could hold new treatments and therapies to alleviate emotional dysfunction (Liebenthal, 2016).

Try to think about your tone and the
words you choose

Why do you select certain words to say? It usually depends on the context of your task, or conversation, or whatever is going on around you. Your words have power though, especially to people who look up to you.

A harsh word can crush someone’s day, and a kind word not only can help lift someone out of a funk but also can motivate the person to do something he or she never thought possible.

It isn’t just the actual words, it’s also the tone of your voice. The tone of your voice can convey more meaning than even words can sometimes. If you are exasperated with someone, does it show in your tone?

Or if you are frustrated, do your words become clipped and short? Sometimes it’s hard to admit that your tone or words are unacceptable. Taking a short break to relax and letting yourself reset is critical to maintaining your drive and motivation.

A leader’s words can have a huge impact

Being able to communicate is a crucial leadership skill. Your tone of voice and the words you choose can either motivate people to advance in their projects or can burn people out. If you are looking for new innovations to happen in your team or organisation, you want people to have the stamina to accomplish things.

Using the right words can help in this process. Start by watching your language and your energy levels when you communicate, get feedback from those around you and you will soon be able to develop a more enthusiastic self and also set the right example for your team.

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Liebenthal, E., Silbersweig, D. A., & Stern, E. (2016). The Language, Tone and Prosody of Emotions: Neural Substrates and Dynamics of Spoken-Word Emotion Perception. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 10, 506. http://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2016.00506

Nicole Lyons

Nicole Lyons

Nicole is the About my Brain Institute's researcher and blogger. As a writer and science educator she is passionate about sharing scientific knowledge to refute ignorance and misconceptions. Nicole is also a devoted wife and mother to three children, two cats, a dog and frog.

Topics: innovation drive