Tuesday, 18 June 2013

The surprising truth about voice and tone in self-defense

Vocal tonality is pretty important. Actually, it's really important, especially when it comes to a self-defense situation. Many women run into problems because their tone of voice doesn't match the words that they are using, and often this is because they fear coming off as either being rude, or being a bitch. We have been socialized for a long time to be polite, and don't get me wrong, being polite makes the world a far better place, but sometimes it is really important that you are firm in what you say and how you say it (particularly when you feel as though the situation that you find yourself is making you uncomfortable).

For example, if you are out on a date with a guy and he starts getting handsy and you aren't
really into it, women will say "stop", but with a vocal tone that doesn't match their wishes. If you say "stop" but your voice goes up at the end, this is called "Seeking Rapport", which is confusing for the man. Even though you are telling him to stop, your tone is telling him that either a) this is still open for discussion and you just need a little more convincing, or b) he'll think that you're being playful. It is absolutely imperative that you are clear in both what you say and how you say it - your words and tone must match in order for him to really understand your wishes.  That makes sense when we understand that 93% of our communication is non-verbal, and only a measly 7% of our communication is about the words that we actually say. Of that 93%, only 55% of it is body language - the other 38% is the tone of your voice.

Let's look at three different types of vocal tone: 

1. Breaking Rapport - this is the most important for our purposes here. This tone of voice communicates that not only do you mean business, but you are showing that you do not want what they are offering and are communicating that clearly. Say "stop" aloud, curving your voice downward as you finish the word. People who train dogs do the same - dogs don't understand what you are saying, but they do understand your pitch. Speak from your chest (not your throat) when you mean business; it's much more commanding, and you will fill your social space with your intent (which, in this case, is for him to keep his hands to himself). 

2. Monotone - We've all had that teacher or professor who droned on in a monotone voice. A monotone pitch conveys disinterest - this is not the pitch that we are looking for in self-defense. Stay "stop" aloud in a monotone voice - it sounds like you are bored, not that you are actively seeking him to stop what he is doing. 

3. Seeking Rapport - this is where your pitch curves up at the end. Generally, this communicates fun, playfulness, or that you want something from the other person. 

4. Neutral Tonality - "Neutral tonality is the best tonality to have. Neutral tonality fluctuates between breaking rapport, and seeking rapport. Neutral tonality is best communicated with a strong voice, speaking from the chest. Neutral is the best of all worlds. Neutral communicates that you’re emotionally stable."(1) 

When you are in a self-defense situation, remember to be clear in both words and tone. Don't try to sweeten what you are saying by having a cute or playful voice or a bit of a smile - mean what you mean, and say it how you mean it. Don't be concerned with coming off poorly because, in all honesty, if this guy is getting handsy and is being a jerk, then don't worry about what he thinks of you. Your safety is always the most important thing! 

Works Cited:
"Become the Intelligent Conversationalist", Kingpin Social, http://kingpinlifestyle.com/become-the-intelligent-conversationalist/

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