Christmas (AKA “The silly season”) is here again. The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated was on December 25th in 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine, so it’s safe to say it’s been around for a while. Why then does this event surprise us every year, causing a wave of chaos and giving unlawful licence to function in an inappropriate and frenetic way?
Do you remember playing with a spinning top when you were a kid? It’s one of the oldest recorded toys that is still in high demand today. People sitting around the tree on Christmas morning has often remind me of this historical toy. It miraculously spins for what seems like an eternity, but at 9.15 am (post present opening on Christmas morning) there is a turbulent wobble that takes hold, shooting the unpredictable weapon across the room, ungracefully stumbling to a stop, flopping on its side, jolting us into taking our first breath in months.
It’s natural that we want to get everything done before Christmas, so to relax and enjoy the mandatory time out. However, the frenetic behaviour creeps in as we insist on operating beyond what is physically and psychologically possible. What is the immediate giveaway that you are trying to be a super hero? Your voice!
It is common knowledge that a person who is under pressure will speak with a high pitched strained voice.
We all know that through polygraph testing, the human voice can be measured using two different sound wave properties: either amplitude or frequency. When speaking in a relaxed manner, the voice modulates between 8-14 Hz. When under pressure, the modulation increases, reaching a significantly higher range.
The point that is often forgotten is that sound also travels through mass. So when you are listening to someone speak, you will not only physically hear the words, you will also feel the sound wave as it lands inside your body, creating what is known as a sympathetic vibration.
Now, here is where it gets interesting, because this sound wave creates one of two responses within you: You either like it or you don’t!
- Like it: It’s aligned with your flow, it makes you feel good.
- Hate it: It’s like finger nails down a blackboard and you cannot get away quick enough.
As human beings, we respond to speech patterns 24/7.
The subconscious is usually working overtime with questions… Do I want to spend time with this person? Do I want to invest time and money with this person? Does this person get me? Or indeed, this person is frantic and get me out of here.
Have you noticed the anxiety levels in people have gone up this week? The cadence or speed at which people are delivering information has increased, eliminating all of the natural pauses, nuances and inflections.
Scientific American recently published an article revealing how babies know when the adults surrounding them are arguing. Not by understanding the content of the conversation and to my surprise not totally responding to the pitch of the debate. They are responding to lack of silence between the words. So to sum it up, as my Chiropractor of nearly thirty years, Andrew Vincent, stated……rhythm and space is better than actual words for conveying a message!
It’s not a secret that as stress and anxiety increase within the body, muscles begin to tighten, causing shallow breathing and tension in the upper torso/neck and facial regions. To counteract these debilitating responses, we must:
- Remain connected to our breath: Allowing our abdomen to freely inhale and exhale.
- Maintain physical strength and endurance: Keep up your exercise, strength and stretching routines, reducing tension in the shoulder and neck. This will allow the larynx to remain relaxed while maintaining an easy tone.
- Implement daily facial exercises: The jaw is extremely susceptible to emotional stress, causing the tongue to tighten. This could also hinder and restrict your ability to articulate clearly or in worse case scenarios cause headaches.
- Allow space in between the words. The more frantic you become the quicker you talk, creating the frenetic energy.
It’s all about resisting the temptation to become over committed, distracted and disconnected.
The frenetic energy that is created across most of society can become contagious, causing symptoms such as snippy high-pitched banter, robotic inflections and delivery, exhausted raspy tones, unsteady broken speech patterns or even loss of voice.
As the Dalai Lama said so eloquently “Even when we engage in ordinary conversation in everyday life, if someone speaks with human feeling we enjoy listening, and respond accordingly; the whole conversation becomes interesting, however unimportant the topic may be. On the other hand, if a person speaks coldly or harshly, we feel uneasy and wish for a quick end to the interaction. From the least to the most important event, the affection and respect of others are vital for our happiness.”
Is your voice supporting your conversations or is your voice leaving people eager to exit the interaction?
Remember, the conversation you have today define the relationships you will have tomorrow.
Whether it is the silly season or not, your voice needs to continue making a positive impact, influencing the relationships that lead you into 2018.