This week the leader of the opposition party in Australia criticized a speech by the Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard (that's his job I suppose) as being "shrill and aggressive". What, I wondered as I read the news report, did he mean?
It's pretty easy to guess what he was saying with aggressive. But what exactly did he mean when he labelled the speech as being 'shrill'?
Was he referring to the tone of her voice? Using the word shrill in the dictionary definition sense of "high-pitched and piercing in sound quality"? Was there some subtle inference about her voice as a woman?
Or was the comment referring to shrill as "marked by great intensity betraying some strong emotion or attitude"?
Quite a different meaning depending on how he was using the word. When I read the comment the next day it made me think about a couple of the Career Chick Hot Tips for communication.
The first of these is about being aware of your voice and how you use it. The higher pitch of a woman's voice can be melodic and attractive. But in business it can be interpreted as sounding too fast and too emotive which can be a distraction from what you are saying.
If you are conscious of your volume, pace, pitch and tone it can help others focus on what you are saying rather than how you say it.
The Career Chick Hot Tip is: Be aware of your voice and how you use it.
The other tip that came to mind when trying to work out what was meant by word 'shrill' is the importance of the choice of words that you use.
So many words in the English language have multiple meanings it's easy for what you say to be mis-interpreted. For example dictionary.com has 179 different meanings listed for the word 'run' and 'set' has 119, which can leave quite a lot of room for mis-interpretation. Even with only 91 different definitions 'point' can have a very different meaning depending on whether you are referring to the sharp point of a pencil, the hand gesture or a particular thing that has been said.
To help your communication be effective and ensure that what you mean is what is heard, your choice of words is important.
Career Chick Hot Tip: Choose words that say exactly what you mean.
That's all for now (meaning - I'm off to the gym ☺)
PS There are more Career Chick Hot Tips in "Hot Tips for Career Chicks"