“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” – Carl W. Buechner, writer, and theologian
Perhaps more important than the words you say is how you say them. The tone of a speech or business presentation is crucial to engage your audience, to persuade them, and to get them to get out of their chairs to take action.
Words make us think, but it is tone that makes us feel. And ultimately it is how we feel that determines if we’re all in for a cause or committed to follow-through with an assignment.
When we manage people, it’s easy to slip into command-and-control tones. These tones can dampen commitment and damage trust with your audience. Business leaders must be mindful of the following tones and the sometimes unintended messages they can send:
- Parental: I know best. I’m the boss so just do what I say.
- Legal: I’m being really precise because I’m more worried about being avoiding a lawsuit than communicating with you.
- Directive: I want you to perform these tasks. I’m the boss and I don’t have to explain why.
- Traditional Business: I’m phony, impersonal and disconnected from you.
- Informational: I’m more concerned with public appearance than communicating with you.
- Promotional: I’m using pseudo-excitement to try to sell you something you probably don’t want.
In my 20-plus years working with leaders of large corporations, I’ve always found a tone that connotes a trusted partnership works best. Whether you are speaking to customers, shareholders, your own employees, contractors or vendors, you should speak with a tone that says “You are a valued business partner and we’re in this together.”
Striking the right tone can make all the difference. Find a partnership tone that works best for you. And when you do, you’ll move beyond being a mere manager and be on the path to becoming a great leader.