The old saying “It’s not what you say, but how you say it,” is absolutely true. Your ability to connect with, persuade or influence the people around you will depend greatly on how carefully you manage your tone.

In our customer service training programs for call centers and people who do business over the telephone, we demonstrate the power of voice tone with the following exercise. We split the group into pairs, and have them say these four simple words to each other: “That car is red.” On its own, it’s a pretty innocuous statement, but then we get them to say the same words as though they are excited about the car being red, then disgusted, then surprised, then uncaring, etc. It’s good for a laugh, and illustrates pretty clearly how much of a difference tone makes.

Do you make a conscious effort to control your tone? You should. Your voice tone is a window to your attitude, and your attitude has a huge impact on the people around you. Words of empathy or happiness, for example, are meaningless if your tone is dispassionate.

Here’s an acronym to remember – SPLIT. These are the five components of voice tone – things that you can control to achieve different effects. They are:






When you listen to highly successful or charismatic people, you will begin to see how they control each of these to achieve different effects on people. Practice these yourself, and see the difference they make. If you would like to learn more, you can find additional details in Winning with the Caller from Hell – a guide to doing business over the telephone (sorry for the shameless plug – but there really is some good stuff in there!)

One last thing: If you aren’t sure how your voice tone sounds, record yourself in telephone conversations. I guarantee you’ll be in for a shock!

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