When I talk about instinctive behaviours, what do you think of? Maybe the way you blink to keep dust out of your eyes, or that coughing fit you had the other day when you tried to swallow a drink of water and it went “down the wrong pipe.”
Do you think of the sound of your voice as an instinct?
Probably not. Most of us, especially when we’re speaking in a formal situation, are thinking about each and every word. We’re planning out the story. We’re making sure we’re clear and that we hit our talking points. None of that feels very instinctive.
But how about the last time you stubbed your toe on the sofa, or pinched your finger in the cupboard door, or even when you gave a great belly laugh? Did the sound you made, the groan, the shout, or the giggle come from a place of conscious thought, or was it out of your mouth even before you even had time to think about it?
At the core, our voices are a response to a primary feeling/thought impulse, but through the process of growing up and becoming socialized, most of us have become very good at suppressing this primary connection, except in those circumstances when pain or fear or real joy catches us by surprise.
In her work Freeing the Natural Voice, Kristin Linklater talks about “the Pang.” She talks about babies, who use their voices as a means of survival. When the deep Pang of hunger clenches their insides, they release an impulsive wail that lets the people around them know they’re hungry. At its most basic level, the wail is a cry for survival.
And then, as she describes, we learn to circumvent the wail. Children learn that wailing for a chocolate chip cookie doesn’t get them what they want. We learn to follow a secondary impulse, rather than the primary one - we ask politely, we learn the words and the tone that will get us the thing we want most, whether it’s a cookie, approval from a loved one, or a happy customer ready to close the sale.
And honestly, it’s a necessary thing. Can you imagine a society where we all went around wailing about our basic needs and desires? It would be full of conflict! But the more we lose touch with that connected, authentic voice, the harder it is to find it again.
Why does this matter so much? We’re adults who know how to use logic and persuasion to get what we want. We don’t wail for cookies in the boardroom. We come armed with figures and moving stories about the power of a brand. But often, when we go to share our moving story, we worry that our voices are weak, monotone, nasal, uninteresting. Somehow, even though we intend to express our emotions accurately, our voices ring false, even to our own ears. The story lacks immediacy and fails to captivate.
The truth is, humans are hardwired to hear the wail and respond. If they don’t, the species won’t survive. If we ignored wailing babies, they would starve. The Pang would win.
The thing is though, if you can tap into your natural voice, the one that is in connection with your primary impulses, the people around you are still hard wired to hear you and respond in a way they don’t to simple logic and persuasion.
No matter how good your sales figures are, or how profound your mission statement might be, humans can hear when something is over-rehearsed or disconnected.
If you can find a way back to your natural voice, and harness it in your daily life, people will listen to you because the power of your conviction will come through your voice. It’s one of our most primitive instincts, and potentially our most powerful tools. Using the natural voice creates a desire for connection, improves communication, and makes you feel more authentic, both to yourself and the people around you.
If you can discover or rediscover your natural voice, you can truly make yourself heard.
Are you ready to free your natural voice, to be heard and to inspire action? Sign up HERE to join my small group course. Weekly on Tuesdays starting September 17th.