Another way to show emotion is in our speaking rate. We associate someone who speaks quickly as being excited and sometimes inexperienced, while someone who speaks very slowly might be viewed negatively as someone who is boring or unintelligent.
Speaking volume also tells a great deal about us. A very soft-spoken person may be viewed as insecure, while a person who speaks very loudly all the time may be viewed as someone who appears angry for no apparent reason.
The best speakers of English speak using approximately 150 words per minute. Broken down, it comes to 2.5 words per second. If we focus on maintaining that rate during all speaking situations, whether we are angry, upset, excited, happy, or sad, can we still show our emotions effectively? Of course we can!
A person who keeps their cool under pressure and who can handle difficult situations without showing negative emotions are people who are most successful and are those that most of us try to emulate.
We do not need to speak quickly or too loudly to show excitement, we can do it with our tone or melody. We’ve all heard the expression that some people wear their emotions on their sleeves, which means that their emotions are transparent or that they show them easily, while other people, not so much. Some people speak without emotion to the point where we can’t tell how they feel. While we don’t want to sound overdramatic all the time, it is equally undesirable not to show any emotions at all.
Our melody should reflect our situation and our audience. Let’s take for example a business manager who has a meeting with his team. He is upset because their project is behind schedule. Because he tends to show his emotions easily, he raises his voice and speaks very quickly when showing his anger and disappointment. When yelling, all of the words he says are emphasized. Maybe he says something like, “WE HAVE TO DO BETTER IF WE ARE GOING TO SUCCEED!” (The words in caps represent emphasized words). What does his team think of him? They think that he is a “hot head” who is unapproachable, both qualities being equally undesirable. While having authority and control is an obvious strength for a leader, trying to obtain it in this way leads to disaster.
Let’s take the same scenario now with a business manager who is talking with his team about his unhappiness about their performance on their project and approach it from another angle. He speaks in a calm voice maintaining an appropriate speed and stresses the positive words he wants his team members to remember. We will use the same sentence as before, but say it as follows: “We HAVE to do BETTER if we are going to SUCCEED.” (the words in caps represent emphasized words). Now the team’s perception of their manager is much different. They know that things are not going well, but because the manager stayed calm and spoke in a professional manner, they can now move on to solving the problem. The team will be more motivated and want to please their manager more when treated with respect.
In any professional or personal situation, we should all try to remember these important tips: avoid yelling every time we find ourselves in a difficult situation, maintain our sense of calm by speaking at a consistent, appropriate rate, and emphasize the most important words we want people to remember. Speaking too quickly, yelling, and stressing every word during an argument or difficult situation means we are out of control, and that is the last quality we want others to associate with us.