As the young woman was leaving the office, her boss started giving her assignments. She replied, “But, I’m in training this afternoon.” He ignored her comments and continued to describe the tasks in more detail. It dawned on her that he hadn’t heard her. (She had been in my class the week before.) She raised her volume and repeated, “I’m in training this afternoon.” He replied, “Oh sure, you can do it tomorrow. Have a good class!”
Many men and women, especially women, do not speak loudly enough. And speaking softly is a subtle nonverbal that can affect your professionalism.
Have you ever said something in a meeting and nobody responded? Yet 20 minutes later somebody at the end of the table said exactly what you said and that person got acknowledged for it.
It could be that by speaking softly you make it easy for people to ignore your comments. You are not being heard, with what I call “substance,” so that what you say registers on others.
Not speaking loudly enough can also invite errors. One soft-spoken supervisor was giving instructions involving numbers to two employees. One employee heard 3; the other heard 30. Big difference!
Follow these three suggestions so your professionalism is not hurt by your volume:
1. Monitor yourself. If you find yourself thinking, but I told him that the first time, it’s possible that you are not speaking with enough volume.
2. Gain an awareness of your volume. Listen to your voice mail messages before you send them. And, if necessary, redo the message and increase your volume.
3. Learn your range. People that are soft spoken usually believe that they only have their regular soft volume and screaming. And everybody has a range of volume; you want to learn yours. Count slowly from one to five, and increase your volume with each number. One would be your softest volume and five would be screaming. Most people want to be between 2½ and 3½.