The Surprising Ways Your Voice Shapes Perception and Personality


Try to remember the last phone conversation you had with a telemarketer. What did you think that person looked like? Did you picture them in a cubicle with headphones on or lying on a bed while making calls? But why did such a particular image pop up in your head first?

Most people are blessed with a natural instrument: their voice. Longfellow, a famous poet and educator, called it the “organ of the soul,” with good reasons. The way you sound and what you say not only represents your thoughts but also affects your image. 

Even when people cannot hear you, they still associate a part of your image with the voice and story they imagine you have. It is one of the most powerful instruments in the world, but people fail to utilize it properly, missing a big opportunity. 

Through this article, you will learn how to harness the power of your voice and make a lasting impact on people.

The science behind voice and emotions

Do you want to be perceived as confident? Speak loud, clear, and to the point. Do you want to be perceived as mysterious? Talk ambiguously, or don’t say a word. 

Like any instrument, vocal chords tug hard on emotions. According to Klaus from Switzerland at the University of Geneva, its physiological basis and communicative functions are to be blamed for this phenomenon. His research found that people can accurately identify emotions from voice alone

It’s long known that the emotions surrounding you will affect you too. What happens when you are moved by emotions that don’t belong to you? You experience empathy.

Empathy makes it possible to feel others’ emotions intensely. The actual mechanisms are complex, but your voice plays a big part, specifically your pitch and tone. 

Pitch and tone represent the feeling of voice. Together, they have a huge impact on how your message is perceived. A 2011 research from the Journal of Voice found that both the pitch level and tonality affect how emotions like joy, sadness, anxiety, and calmness are expressed and how they are perceived and understood. 

In another study at Yale, it was found that the sense of hearing can actually be stronger than other senses when it comes to detecting emotions. Hearing someone’s voice helps people identify emotions more accurately than just looking at the face. Put another way, you can better differentiate someone’s emotional condition over the phone than in person.

It is a fact that voice and emotions are intricately connected. But voice affects many other aspects of life too.

Communication skills and confidence

Communication nowadays is the bane of existence for many. In a study based in Rasht, Iran, it was found that communication skills are vital to raising the self-esteem of students. Good communicators are often those who have confidence in their voice and thoughts. So, of course, the ‘vice-versa’ is possible here; if you are confident, then you are likely a good communicator. 

Read more: Overcoming Blame Game: Fostering Healthy Communication in Personal Life 

Voice is very influential, but vocal communication scares many. The reasons range from inherent issues of anxiety and stress to situational reasons like lack of experience, status differences, and unconventional ideas. Whatever the reason may be, confidence always takes a brutal hit. 

According to David Pope, a Hong Kong-based voice coach, the voice is completely unique to individuals. It represents their image and how they ‘feel’ about themselves. He cited a research study on the voice of women in South Australia which found that changing the pitch and tone of their voice has helped people feel more confident about and assertive with their speech.

As you can see, voice transcends all forms of communication and critically affects life; all the more reason to utilize this instrument properly.

Making some strategic improvements

The best aspect about your vocal cords is that they can be trained at pretty much any age, as long as the game plan is good. An expert vocal coach, Robert Love, has shared some valuable strategies to improve your voice.

Understand your sound

Being conscious of yourself is essential to any kind of progress. Understanding how you sound in various contexts can be quite helpful on your path to voice enhancement.

One of the most popular methods for doing this is just to record yourself talking with friends, clients, parents, or even your pet in various made-up scenarios. With this insight, recognizing the areas of improvement will become much easier.

Gain total breath control

Toastmasters International states that developing a clean and powerful voice starts with polishing your breathing style. They have good reasons; not breathing deeply and consciously leads to a weaker voice. With less oxygen and panting breaths, producing a clear voice is nearly impossible.

You can try the following breathing exercises to improve your pattern of breathing:

  • Lion’s Breath – This is a kind of pranayama that helps clear toxins, reduce stress, and energize your upper chest and throat.
  • Alternate Nostril Breathing – Based on yoga, this technique reduces tension and anxiety. It’s thought to benefit the brain, lungs, and heart.
  • Humming Bee Breathing – This is a special yoga breathing method where you make a buzzing sound as you exhale. This kind of breathing reduces tension, promotes relaxation in the body, and calms the weary, worried, and disturbed mind.
  • Deep breathing – This breathing style causes your abdomen to rise and your lungs to be completely filled with air when you breathe deeply enough.
  • Resonant breathing – This kind of breathing happens slowly, typically at a pace of 4.5 to 7 breaths per minute. Resonance breathing elevates mood and reduces stress and blood pressure.

Optimize your speaking rate

According to a 1970 study, the average American conversational speech rate of 120-150 words per minute is too slow. There is a speaking speed that is most effective in establishing a confident and secure personality. Whether you are a fast speaker or a slow one, there are two main ways you can achieve the optimum speed:

  • Train your pronunciation. Read aloud for a while, paying close attention to each word. Speaking quickly is useless if you are stammering all over the place.
  • Receive feedback. Ask people around you to correct your speech. You become acutely aware of your speech patterns and compelled to improve your delivery when others call attention to your areas of weakness.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle

The voice is also an organ needing nourishment and care, so take care of it like you would other parts of your body.

Some specific habits to look out for are: avoiding mouthwash, stopping bad habits like smoking and drinking, and eating spicy food. Maintaining a diet with plenty of vitamins A, E, and C helps keep the throat healthy, which improves your voice. 

Stay hydrated

The vocal cords require ample lubrication to function smoothly. Drinking water throughout the day, using a humidifier if possible, and avoiding caffeinated or alcoholic beverages can keep your throat hydrated.

Integrating voice care into daily life

Other than using special strategies, it’s far better to take daily care of your voice, just like how you take care of your teeth or skin. 

While building daily habits can sound and feel tedious and mundane, the benefits far outrank the discomfort. Here are some ways to build better vocal health:

Do regular vocal exercises

Intentional vocal warm-ups or exercises can help strengthen your vocal cords and improve your voice. Some vocal exercises you can try out are:

  • Lip trills – Inhale through your nose, then, as you exhale, make a sound similar to a phone ringing by vibrating your lips together.
  • Creaky doors – Make a small, ominous sound, like the opening of a rusted gate or a creaky door. 
  • Nasty nays – Use a bratty or Wicked Witch-like tone to make the “nay” sound. 

It is best to do vocal exercises an hour or two before sleep or after waking. Your voice has optimal strength during this time. Usually, a 1-hour session is best, but a quick 20-minute warm-up is also enough.

Make vocal health care a lifestyle

To make vocal health care a regular part of life, there are a few habits you need to develop. These are not too complicated. Simply doing vocal exercises daily and maintaining physical and mental health will do a lot of good.

So will reforming bad habits that affect vocal health negatively, like:

  • Using alcohol or chemical-based mouthwash
  • Cradling the phone between neck and ear, and
  • Raising your vocal volume when alternatives are available

Integrating anything new into life and being consistent with it is difficult. It requires a sense of discipline that can be hard to develop. Some things that can make this process easier are establishing the goal and reasons.

Why do you want to improve your voice? Why is your voice important to you? Remembering why you are taking the steps to improve your voice will help in your motivation and commitment. 

Use your voice wisely

Your voice can also have power over others, your social life, and your mind. That’s why using it wisely is important. Do not talk in extreme pitches if possible, try to maintain a comfortable volume. Avoid using your voice when you don’t need to, and try to avoid speaking in loud places as it forces you to speak louder than you need to.

In conclusion

Most people hate the sound of their voice. But you should not be one of them.

Voice has an intense impact on life. It is an important factor for society and the self. Voice sure has power over emotions, influences other senses like hearing and seeing, and even increases your confidence. 

The voice also has a direct and codependent relationship with communication, one of the most vital factors for today’s living generation. Communication today affects everything, from outward success to inward self-esteem, which makes voice a powerful commanding force over all beings.

Read more: Three Ways To Boost Your Self-Esteem 

Given the importance of voice, its malleability is a blessing for those who know how to use it. This makes the voice an instrument you can use to ensure your well-being and peace, given the strategies to strengthen your voice are utilized properly. 

If you are truly willing to learn the power of your pitch, take action now.

If you would like to see more resources on voice, check out the Personal Science Labs. The lab uses the research of the Institute for Life Management Science to produce courses, certifications, podcasts, videos, and other tools. Visit the Personal Science Labs today.

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