This latest blog comes from guest contributor, Dr Silke Paulmann, who is Professor of Psychology at the University of Essex and an expert on the ‘non-verbal’ aspects of the human voice and the vital part they play in communications.
This is the latest in our series of blogs about helping young people to find the voices they need. It takes the form of an interview with Junaid Hameed, a school student and alumnus of the English-Speaking Union’s public speaking programmes. It shows how teaching oracy skills can develop the range and impact of a young person’s VoicePrint profile.
vp-adminLiteracy and Numeracy are not enough – we need Oracy too
All organisations have the problem of communications, but what sort of communications problem have you got?
It’s an inevitable by-product of sub-dividing effort. Splitting work into different functions, departments and roles creates differences of priority, attention and concern. It not only produces unintended barriers to the flow of communication, but also real inter-personal tensions and active differences of opinion, arguments and conflicts that need to be recognised and resolved.
The other reason why all organisations have a problem with communications is that individuals differ enormously in how they go about these things. While there is only a limited number of different ‘voices’ – or modes of expression – that we can use (VoicePrint identifies nine useful voices and a further nine dysfunctional ones), individuals tend to draw on them selectively and then exhibit many, many different ways of deploying the particular ones that they prefer to use. The result is that we often talk at crossed purposes.
vp-adminWhat sort of communications problem have you got?
Yes, I know. There’s been a surge of interest in internal communication in the last couple of decades. There are now around 50,000 people in the UK alone involved in developing employee communication. Employee attitude surveys are commonplace whereas they hardly existed until the early 1990s. A new vocabulary has emerged encouraging managers to think in terms of ‘internal marketing’, ‘aligning’ employees with Mission and Vision statements, ‘empowering’ them and most recently ‘engaging’ them. But the fact is much of this internal communication directed at employees has been a lightly disguised form of progaganda.
vp-adminFive Trends Raising the Importance of Employee Voice
Do occupational roles have distinctive voices, and, if so, what are they? We expect doctors in general medicine to use the Diagnose voice and barristers in legal practice to Advocate. We expect traffic wardens to Admonish and pharmacists to dispense Advice as well as remedies. So the intuitive answer is yes. But in many cases role definitions are less clear-cut than these. What voices are involved in those cases? And what empirical evidence is there to identify specific voices with particular roles?
vp-adminTeam Talk – Improving the communication skills of the Belbin team-role types
Each of us has a personal but largely unconscious profile of ‘voices’ which shapes the way we talk and the impact we make. We each favour some voices, and often over-rely on them, while neglecting others.
The effect is not only to leave us less versatile than we could be and need to be, but also deaf and blind to our own inflexibilities and to the consequences of some of our actions.
By bringing your personal pattern of voices, and its impact on others, into conscious awareness, VoicePrint makes your personal, inter-personal and organisational skill-set more complete, more agile and more effective.