In what ways does tone of voice matter?
Tone of voice conveys whether you feel positive or negative about something, and how intense that feeling is.
Positivity in tone of voice, actions such as hugs and smiles, and in words, makes communication flow more smoothly and affection grow more amply. Positivity enables partners to feel more relaxed with each other, which also helps them to feel flexible and eager to be responsive to each other’s concerns.
Successful couples convey lots of positivity. They often use phrases like I agree that…, What a good idea!. … I like that you ….. Thanks so much for ….. They smile, and their voice has a smile in it. Helping each other and responding to each other’s concerns also enhances positive feelings.
Successful couples also control the intensity of their emotions. If they do feel a negative emotion like alarm, concern, anxiety, or even irritation, they stay in a calm emotional state, expressing the feeling in words rather than by speaking louder or faster.
Marriage is for grown ups. Children often get upset, crying and shouting, whining or getting mad. The ability to stay in a calm and positive emotional state, even in the face of difficult situations, is a hallmark of maturity.
In sum, relationships feel positive to the extent that the couple communicates positive feelings. Every negative emotional tone is like rust on the car–it’s corrosive, not helpful. And relationships feel positive to the extent that the partners can discuss all their differences in a calm mode without powering over each other via emotional escalations.
© Copyright 2010 by Susan Heitler, PhD, therapist in Denver, Colorado. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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