Opinion and Editorial

If only we could hear ourselves talk

Shilpa Bhasin Mehra
Filed on September 27, 2021
Alamy Stock photo

If people could only hear how (good or) bad they sound, they would surely make amends to sound better

Technology is growing by leaps and bounds. There are apps to count our calories and steps. Alexa and Siri to answer any question that comes to our mind, from weather, to traffic, to playing our music requests. I hope some wise person develops an app that people could hear their own voice and conversations. I know we have recorders and the good old Dictaphone. But I mean without pressing any button to record, we could hear what we said at will.

Instead of enrolling for soft skills classes, this would be far more effective. If people could only hear how (good or) bad they sound, they would surely make amends to sound better. No one wants to be told anything, yet everyone sees a mirror and has to accept what they see in the mirror. Similarly, there should be an audio mirror/reflector. No lectures or sermons, please hear yourself and decide what you want to do about it.

There are some people who repeat the same story or line a hundred times. They are not 90 years old; they don’t have dementia or Alzheimer. Maybe they love to hear their own voice. but sometimes think about others around you, who are not in love with your voice. You are not Elvis Presley or Lata Mangeshkar, that I could hear you on repeat mode.

There are some who sound just rude and harsh. While some are so loud, that you can hear them with a plane flying over your head. If one has to tell them that they are rude or loud, they will deny it completely and may even be offended.

There are valid reasons why actors and speakers, rehearse in front of the mirror. It is so important to see how we look, our body language, our facial expressions, how we sound, dialogue delivery, tone and voice modulation. That’s why the end product is so good.

When I started the Happiness Chats last year, it was a real learning curve for me. It was about 30 minutes of a pleasant chat with a guest who I would invite. I did do a recording prior to the chat to hear how I sounded and see my expressions. We are not Amitabh Bachchan who can sound good all the time.

People are willing to do strenuous things, like pushing their endurance to do a 2 minutes plank or 100 pushups. May I request them for a simple thing, like speaking in a pleasant voice with kind words and with a smile (that would be a cherry on top). Some tell me that it is not easy for them. My take on that is if your teacher, coach or boss is in front of you, you can do so. You can watch your words, tones and grouchy face. But if there is no pressure as such, you are your (not so pleasant) self. So basically, it boils down to, when you have to do it, you can.

The sad part is that our close people get the brunt of our temperament, while outsiders and complete strangers get the smiles. I was thinking of the grading system in schools and colleges. Maybe we can adopt a practice that our behaviour (words and actions) is at least above the passing mark of 40 per cent. Better the per cent, the better it is for everyone involved. I realise one cannot have the concept of equality when dealing with different people, but a basic standard is not asking for too much. Let’s not be Jekyll and Hyde.

I did a course where we had to stand in front of the mirror and say positive affirmations aloud. The power of saying positive words. What a wonderful way to begin the day and at times when we needed to hear something good. The brain believes it when it hears it in your own voice and the eyes see you saying them. It is a complete circuit.

I read that many people cringe when they hear their recorded voice. Imagine what the others have to put up with. When we see ourselves looking bad in the mirror, we change our clothes, dress up to look good, so that we like what we see in the mirror. Why not speak in such a way, that when we hear ourselves we like what we hear. Then we can be confident that others would like what they heard and won’t have the desire to put us on mute.

One quote I read so resonates with me, “Let’s talk soon, I miss hearing your voice”.

Shilpa Bhasin Mehra is a legal consultant based in Dubai and the founder of Legal Connect.

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