Paralinguistic Communication Leads to More Perceptive Conversation
more aware of the subtle nuances of verbal communication
can contribute significantly to better conversation
and will promote a deeper understanding and connection
with others as you become a more active speaker and
communication is the study of voice and how words are
said. When you open your mouth to speak, you reveal
much about yourself that often has nothing at all to
do with the words you are speaking.
signals and cues refer to every element and nuance of
your speech. Paralinguistic communication can be much
more subtle than other forms of nonverbal communication.
example, a loud, booming voice is not at all subtle.
However, a firm voice that conveys conviction is more
nuanced than a pointing finger, big gestures, or invading
someoneís personal space.
are some common paralinguistic vocal cues and examples:
In the United States, people from the Northeast speak
faster than Southerners and generally men speak faster
than women. Rapid rates of speech (and quickly coming
up with a response) have been correlated with composure
example, to establish instant vocal rapport and a more
subtle connection, speak at a rate or speed similar
to the person you are communicating with in conversation.
International languages have unique rhythms. It is important
to note this because the global language for business
today is still English.
example, a person from France speaks at a different
speed and rhythm than someone from Singapore. A French
person will generally speak English using a rhythmical
pace similar to their native French language.
Singaporean Chinese person, whose first language is
Chinese, will likely speak using a rhythmical pace similar
to their native Chinese language rhythm. Therefore,
the Singaporean Chinese will naturally speak English
faster than the French person.
matter what your native language is, if you match the
rate and rhythm of speech of the slowest speaking person,
it will be easier to communicate and connect on a paralinguistic
Research indicates that confidence, assertiveness, and
boldness are reflected in louder speech.
doesnít mean that you go around speaking loudly but
if you need to "raise the stakes" or occur more assertive,
raising your vocal volume will help you to do this.
A high-pitched voice can often time sound squeaky or
childlike. Many people associate lower pitches with
greater credibility, maturity and authority. More men
are born with low-baritone or bass-pitched voices and
they rarely use the highest level of pitch that women
women often times find themselves in a vocal dilemma
trying to force their natural speaking voice too low
to be more accepted or to seem more professional. It
is important to note that the pitches you choose to
speak on most should be in your most powerful vocal
though a lower pitched voice is often considered more
credible, you should never force your voice so low that
you lose vocal power or vocal focus.
Inflection refers to variations in pitch. Imagine a
storyteller reading a book to children. You would expect
an almost sing-song inflection. But too much inflection
in other contexts, like the business world, can undermine
credibility. On the other hand, we all know what itís
like to be nearly put to sleep by a monotone speaker
who will definitely be perceived as less charismatic
or even flat out boring.
of the easiest ways to ensure your voice is never boring
or monotonous is to warm up daily with a few singing
exercises or a song in the shower.
Quality usually refers to the vocal characteristics
that allow you to differentiate one voice from another.
Is a personís voice small, feminine, or shaky; thin,
throaty, or aloof; tense, flat, grating, nasal, harsh,
or shrill? All of these represent different vocal combinations
of rate, pitch, and volume.
yourself to get a more realistic idea of what you sound
like and ask several people you trust for their opinion
and feedback on your vocal quality.
Finally, how emphatic are the statements? For example
if someone says, "I want you to do it now!"
The intense delivery can be a direct indicator of the
speaker's passion and commitment or lack of it. The
tone also reveals emotions behind the words being spoken.
assertive listener will be able to connect face to face
and create instant rapport with someone on the telephone
by being aware of the subtle nuances of paralinguistic
you match & mirror vocal characteristics without
mockery but with the intention to authentically connect
with the people you are speaking with, you will be amazed
at how quickly and easily you can establish vocal rapport
that leads to greater understanding and more efficient
aware of your own paralinguistic vocal strengths and
weaknesses will allow you to subtly influence your speaking
and listening so that you will be a more powerful communicator.
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- an internationally acclaimed expert on self
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