Choosing the Right Words...Or Not
The woman spoke. "I believe he is gone for good."
How do you interpret those words? What is she feeling about the man's being gone? Left as this is, you interpret this based on your own current circumstances, but what if I broaden your vision of what's occurring in this moment?
The woman's gaze drifted beyond us, her eyes losing their focus on the things around her. A few moments later, she spoke, her voice soft and measured. "I believe he is gone for good."
How do you interpret this woman's statement now? Has it changed?
If you look only at the words she speaks, you can read any emotion you want into them, but once you take them within the context of the description, you realize there is more going on.
We probably don't know enough from this one passage to interpret it properly, but I wanted to show how the addition of body language, or nonverbal communication, and tone of voice can change the way you interpret someone's words. Last night, at our writers' group, I found myself examining a fellow writer's passage, wanting a little more. I suggested a beat, or some kind of description of the speaker's actions, in the middle of a character's statement. Why? I wanted more depth of understanding to the words spoken.
If we disect the passage above, the woman's body language adds emotion to her words:
The woman's gaze drifted beyond us, her eyes losing focus on the things around her. A few moments later, she spoke...
In a brief, but revealing way, the passage provides depth through tone:
...her voice soft and measured.
|How we interpret what people say.|
Tone reveals even more. People in my communication training classes often struggle with the term tone when I ask them to define it. Many say it's attitude. But what do we hear that tells us the speaker's attitude?
Tone has five variables:
Just by focusing on the variables of body language and tone, our communications become richer and provide broader meaning to others.
Why is this important? Hello? 55%-nonverbal, 38%- tone, 7%-words used.
What have you been missing in your communications or writing because of this?