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Say It, Don’t Spray It

Posted on: Thursday, July 5, 2018 Category: Blog (58)
< 1 min read

How often do you subconsciously judge another’s intelligence? Regardless of the merit of their remarks – you were trying to work out just how smart they really are. Make no mistake, it goes both ways!

These vocal elements will directly impact your perception:

  1. Pace of speech
  2. Tone of speech
  3. Use of ‘fillers’
  4. Smiling

Research has found several ways we assess someone’s personality and intelligence, based purely on the way they speak, not what they say. Researchers from the Brigham Young University found that the pace of speech impacts perceptions of confidence. The study argued that more competent and benevolent perceived speakers spoke at a quick but comprehensible pace. To practice – the ideal rate fell between 140 – 160 words per minute.

Pitch also impacts perceptions. Researchers at the University of Chicago found that people associate a high pitched tone with nervousness or childishness, while those that have a lower pitch and employ a vocal inflexion project confidence and maturity. Too much downward vocal inflexion can make you come across as rude, while too high of an inflexion comes across as less knowledgeable, regardless of what is actually being said.

Filler words are the classic stereotypical phrases like “ah”, um, “like” and “so”. Overuse of these creates a perception of low confidence and incompetence. Reducing your use of them requires recognition of use and then the substitution of these words with silence  – which has been argued to increase perceived intelligence!

For the listeners of the conversation, smiling while listening has been argued to impact perceptions of intelligence negatively. Therefore, save the smile for appropriate responses and opt for an open, inviting stance – such as parted lips – which convey a welcoming perception.

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