Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth.
Do the right thing because it is right.
– W. Clement Stone
You’ll have seen in a recent article Daniel Day Lewis’ belief that a person’s voice is a deep, personal reflection of character. What does the manner in which you use your voice say about your character, and how does this contribute to your reputation – also known as your personal brand – as an EA, PA, Administrative Assistant or Office Manager?
In earlier articles, I offered that body language is critical to success in a job interview. We want to strive for a relaxed entry to the interview room, stand tall and, depending on culture, offer a confident handshake and maintain eye contact, particularly when responding to questions. We want to present as relaxed and engaged, without offering a bobble-head image, readily nodding at and agreeing with any thoughts offered by others. Once we open our mouth to speak, we have the opportunity to either reinforce or eliminate all such positive representations of who we are, and why we’re the right candidate for the job.
Independent of what you know and the vocabulary you carry, your voice can project an air of confidence that reflects upon your reputation
A note, here, to those assistants currently engaged in a job search: if you’re inclined to view this as yours truly layering yet another daunting element to the job search process – “Great. Build and present a strong CV, dress appropriately, pay attention to my body language, come up with insightful questions … and pay attention to how my voice sounds?!” – it may help to, instead, consider attention to your voice as yet one more tool that can support your likelihood of success.
When faced with interview questions, consider not only your answer but the manner in which you frame it. Do you begin a sentence on an even keel, only to end it with your voice climbing upward, so that your statement winds up sounding more like a return question? There are instances when that may well be appropriate, but that’s not the case when you’re striving to present yourself as informed, competent and in control.
When someone phones your office to reach your executive or manager, your tone, confidence and approach reflect not only upon your organisation but upon you. If you’ve ever made a business phone call only to be greeted (as it were) by a disinterested voice dripping with boredom at the other end of the line, or by someone whose speech is excessively rapid or monosyllabic, you’ll have one impression of that organisation. If, on the other hand, you’ve been greeted by someone whose smile, goodwill, or supportive competence practically vibrate through the receiver, you’re likely to have a positive impression of both that person and his/her organisation.
When you represent your executive or department in a meeting, you’re impacting your brand not only by what you say – and don’t say! – but also by your tone or modulation, and the authority your voice lends to your words. Similarly, when you’re approached by a frustrated or irate client or associate, as all assistants eventually are, your voice can serve to either escalate or help diffuse a difficult situation.
Open Your Ears to the Office Around You, and Modulate that Voice
Before assessing your own modulation, open your ears to the office around you. Just as you may emulate people you admire in other aspects of career development, focus on people you’ve identified as successful communicators.
For an entirely unscientific experiment, consider placing a small mirror near your phone for a day or two.
Check for a glimpse of your face as you’re about to answer or place a phone call, and consider that the expression on your face is likely to be conveyed right through to the person at the other end of the call.
While many of our calls may come in at inopportune times, or imply additional demands that you know will involve additional juggling or time management strengths, that needn’t imply that we make this evident to others. Rather, a skilled assistant is one who is able to rise above such challenges to convey her/his positive brand through a voice that speaks positively about both you and your organisation.
A thought for your day, with my good wishes …
One of my great regrets, and I don’t have many, is that I spent too long putting peoples’ status and reputation ahead of their more important qualities. I learned far too late in life that a long list of letters after someone’s name is no guarantee of compassion, kindness, humour, all the far more relevant stuff.
– Bill Nighy
A voice is such a deep, personal reflection of character.
– Daniel Day Lewis