Power has a sound, and feeling powerful actually changes a person’s voice.
That is one finding of a new study on speech and power from San Diego State University and Columbia Business School, recently published in the journal Psychological Science. The findings suggest that we know power when we hear it, and what’s more, we tend to alter our voices to seem more potent, says lead researcher Sei Jin Ko of San Diego State University.
Executives, political leaders and aspirants to power often employ voice coaching to sound commanding–Margaret Thatcher’s well-documented voice training is just one example. But much about voice and power is unintentional, says Ko. Depending on the situation and whether we are addressing a child, boss or friend, our voices subtly shift in pitch, loudness and tone, she adds.
Leaders must take more time to stop, reflect and assess their own thinking, capabilities and aptitudes. They must evaluate how their leadership brand is being perceived by others and whether or not it has grown tired and requires a tune-up. Leaders must take pause and reach out to those before them who have already lived the situations they are about to experience themselves – and embrace these perspectives as nuggets of wisdom in preparation for what lies ahead of them.
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