With so much out there on the internet these days, it can be harder and harder to get your voice heard selling in the world of interaction with real live people.
So, more than ever, it’s about building relationships, listening, connecting.
But while it’s important to be able to listen, it’s also important to draw people in.
And sometimes, when the pronunciation, rhythm and intonation get in the way, it’s harder to connect.
Of course, when certain vowels or consonants are incorrectly pronounced, it can cause confusion. And when the listener stops listening to figure out just what was said, speaker and listener go out of sync.
The fact is we may not have 20 minutes or half an hour for the listener to adjust. The brain has already done a backflip, and it takes a moment for the listener to get back to the present. In that moment, we can lose the sale.
So the fact is we do need to correct some of the sounds that are causing confusion in the important words. But it’s never every sound.
There was a study done some years ago on by the psychologist Albert Mehrabian, who found that listeners judge the emotional content of speech, first by the speaker’s body language (55%), then 38% on “vocal qualities” – not words, but tone of the voice, the pitch and the pace of the delivery. It’s not about the words.
In any case, anglophones just listen for important words, the ones that provide meaning. We fill in the rest from context. So we need the clarity of important words to make sure we understand them the first time.
But the rhythm, the intonation, the dynamics all help us to understand what we need to focus on and what you want us to feel. When we know how and what syllables or words to stress, we’re guiding and motivating our listener.
English is constantly moving up and down staircases. If we want to emphasize an idea, the voice will rise in pitch, in volume. We’ll hold a note –– maybe just a word, maybe just one syllable –– but we’ll make it just a little higher, a little louder and a little longer. We’ll speak a little faster. Then get a little slower. We’ll pause for a moment to let the thought sink in. We’re guiding the listening saying, “Listen to this. This is important.”
We can listen to music that has no words at all. Yet it can motivate us to feel. In fact, it can evoke powerful emotions. The “music” of English works exactly the same way.
We anglophones are lazy speakers, so English is a language of reductions. If something’s too hard to say, we change it. So what you see on the page often has little to do with the way we say it. But that “short-form” English can spark the imagination with its rhythm and melody. It works on our emotions, consciously and unconsciously. It’s about psychology.
And the “art” of the sale is about psychology.
It’s about trying to enter into the mind of the prospective customer to make the listener feel as comfortable as possible. But to make that sale, the salesperson too, has be comfortable. If the customer and client are totally in sync, great. Why bother to make any changes?
But, often, I find that people are hesitant to make changes – as if incorporating more of the Canadian accent (standard North American accent) would destroy a sense of identity.
The thing is … our accents (and we all have an accent) are a beautiful part of who we are. And making some changes isn’t the same as erasing our identity.
People respond to music. And the music of the Canadian English language can help communicate, negotiate and motivate.
In the long run, we’re not just selling a product or a service. We’re selling who we are. We’re saying, “I care about you. Trust me. Listen to me. I have something of value for you.”
The “music” of English and the “art” of the sale have a powerful connection.
Your own thoughts are most welcome.
And don’t forget to check out the latest word-of-the week at One-Minute Words on The Canadian Pronunciation Coach channel.