Archive for January, 2011

Tone is everything

Monday, January 17th, 2011

When was the last time you listened to yourself? I mean really listened?

When my husband and I talk, sometimes we accuse each other of yelling. Inevitably, each of us denies raising our voice. Could we each be wrong?

I don’t think so.We learn patterns of speech early in our childhood, modeling them after our parents, grandparents, and siblings (who learned them from our parents!). Those patterns of speech are ingrained and hard to break.,/p>

For example: I have a brother-in-law I’ve only met a few times in 25 years, since my sister lives cross country from me. When we get together, I know he asks questions just to get a conversation going. Inevitably, however, when he questions me, I feel as though I am being interrogated. He uses direct questions and does not share experiences or feelings to temper the tone.

When my husband and I have an emotional discussion (not an argument, mind you), we both tend to raise our voices and talk more directly. That’s why we accuse each other of yelling!¬†What we need to do is to tone down and listen to ourselves (as well as the other person).

I remember my mother saying to me when I was a sometimes sassy teenager, “I wish I had a tape recorder so you could hear what you sound like!”

That’s not really a bad idea. I have a tape recorder–a tiny one that I can slip into my pocket. Maybe I’ll start recording myself (and my husband!) when we have one of those “discussions.”

Until next time,