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Your voice matters

coaching leadership Mar 03, 2023

Your voice matters. 

In this post I’ll be talking to you about why our voices matter, what’s in our voice, what people hear when we talk and a learning experience following a podcast interview.

I have been on a self-development, self-discovery, self-learning and self-unlearning journey for years, decades even. Sometimes it can be exhausting and I have moments where I think it would be so much easier to live in complete ignorance and pretend that everything and life is ok. 

When we start on this deep dive self-discovery path it is endless and constant and every time you think that you’ve got something nailed and everything will become easier for you, it’s like you’ve just peeled back another layer of the onion and there’s something new to come to terms with. 

I find that the more I uncover and discover about myself and recognise I still have many repeating patterns of self-sabotage, something else comes up to bite me. 

But I’m always learning something, whether I’m reading, on a course, on a retreat, there’s always that openness to learning. 

The more open we are to find out more about ourselves, the more we open ourselves up to those magic moments of realisation and awareness and it can be fantastic. 

One of my goals this year is to continue to have conversations with people and talk more about burnout, about myself and how I can help more people. I want to be on more stages talking about what we can do to prevent and banish burnout. I know when I’m on stage I can create moments of change and realisation for people, I can create an impact. 

I want to do more webinars. 

I want to be on more podcasts. 

The more I’m seen and heard, the more impact I can make. 

I know that my writing has an impact on people and when I’m seen and/or heard, something resonates with people on a different level and I’m able to create more ripples of change. People hear something and have those magic moments and go and make a change for themselves. 

This is why our voices matter!

When I first started talking about my burnout journey a part of me was thinking; why would anybody care what I have to say about it? And then I kept getting this pull that I needed to continue to talk about it and a part of it has actually been very healing for me. The more I talk about it the more I’m able to let it go. 

When I wrote my latest book Mind The Gap - The journey from burnout to breakthrough and beyond, I didn’t initially want to write that, there was a part of me thinking it’s not relevant and no one will care, so it’s time to close that chapter of my life. The core part of me told me to write it and the book has changed lives. Is it a bestseller? No! Are there lots of reviews? No! But the messages I get show that my experience and me talking about it does matter, it encourages people to share their stories, to talk about their transformation and talk about their passions and what they want to change. 

We all have a story that’s worth sharing.

I’m sure many of you have had feedback or comments about something you’ve written or said. You had an impact on them!

Not everything has to be about likes, shares and engagement. It’s about the impact we have on others' lives. Sometimes I put a post out on social media and it’s like tumbleweed - no likes. It looks like my post has bombed, but I often get private messages off the back of it about how it resonated. 

If we are just doing what we are doing for vanity metrics, that’s very different then continuing to use our voices to share our stories and put ourselves out there knowing we are doing it for something greater. 

Your voice matters!

A podcast I was on a while back was quite literally about the sound of my voice. I’m in a group of podcast hosts and I’d seen this request for guests asking to join a live assessment with a voice coach. The voice coach listens to the various tones, notes and sounds within your voice. 

My sister is a sound therapist and years ago I had a conversation with her about my voice as I’m very conscious that I sound very nasally and I know that a lot of that has to do with the problems with my gut. My sister recommended a book to me called ‘The ear and the voice’ and the connection between what we can hear, what we say and how other people can hear it. 

So when I worked with this voice coach, Tracy Goodwin, we started by having a nice chat and then we spoke for about 1 minute before she hit record. Within a couple of minutes of us talking she asked if I grind my teeth and yes, I do! 

Tracy had picked up that I force my voice, much like I’m fighting to be heard and for approval. What she was picking up on was the tension in my voice and maybe that I’m still holding back from what I want to say. The most prevalent thing she said was that whilst I come across as this energetic force and that when I talk people listen, but some people might find it intimidating. She asked if anyone has ever said that I’m intimidating and I said yes! She asked has anyone ever said they don’t feel good enough to work with me. Yes! Tracy had picked up from my voice that I come across as this authoritative voice, but actually the likeability factor isn’t what people are hearing or receiving.

I talk in 6th gear; I want to get my message across, I want to make sure people understand my message, I want to highlight the credibility I have with what I do. But what I hadn’t realised is that in doing those things, I’m scaling back on ‘this is me the person’, this is what I love doing about what I do, I love to support and encourage people. But from the nuances she was picking up on, it was the authoritative side that was taking the front seat. 

We spoke about communicating with love and looked at the way that I sometimes speak to my partner and sons. I know there’s love in what I’m saying to them, but they tell me to stop nagging, stop interrogating, stop having a go. But I wasn’t having a go at them, but they heard something different from me. 

Have you read Amy Cuddy’s book regarding power poses? The power of standing with a level of authority and how our body language matters, how we project our voices matters. Some of that can change our state. 

What I hadn’t realised was how I’d always just go into command mode with my voice. 

Which can occasionally cause people to retreat. My inner warrior wants to share and change, so I automatically go into my warrior mode. The rally cries of ‘this is how we can make change, this is what I need you all to do’…

Yet sometimes you don’t need to be out front commanding, sometimes you need to be in the centre of the circle, literally in virtual hug mode. Doing the nurturing, the loving and offering kindness. 

Sometimes it’s about using my voice to show that I get you and we’re in this together. 

So I know I have work to do. But yes I’m still on this mission to banish burnout and make sure that we don't suffer from it. I know we can prevent it and we can do that when we are clear about who we are at our core. 

Some people don’t have a lot of fight left in them and they don’t need the warrior or to hear my battle cries. Yet if we can through our voices portray that virtual hug and bring you in and include you in this conversation…

In the corporate world I was told numerous times that we do not show emotion. Especially as an HR Director. However, I’m a very expressive person and yet it was very much drilled into me that you do not show emotion at work. You put on the mask and do what needs to be done. 

I had once questioned the Chief Exec in a meeting and immediately was pulled into the COO’s office and told to never challenge the CEO like that ever again. All I was doing was asking a question, but if I wanted to be heard in that masculine environment, I had to mask my true self and there was a certain way that I had to speak and vocalise what I wanted to say. 

When I first started doing public speaking, a lot of the trainers and coaches taught us how to command the room. This is how you influence through your voice and how you make an impact. There’s very little about nurturing the audiences. There was very little in my corporate career that was about nurturing, instead as a leader it was about commanding respect. 

So is it any wonder why my voice is the way it is? I’ve learnt how to talk and command a room in a certain way because especially as a woman, the expectation was; this is what you need to do if you want to be heard in a room of men. 

But if it’s potentially impacting people that I genuinely want to help, then I need to make some changes. 

My invitation to you is to think about your patterns and behaviours, how you talk and behave and how that comes across to others. How is your voice being perceived?

I’ve realised I don’t always have to start in 6th gear. I need to start from 1st gear sometimes and take people through the gears. Some people need to be taken on the journey more slowly. 

Your voice matters but so does the perception. 

 

As we know core-led women do 3 things:

They know who they are deeply at the core

They set and maintain boundaries

They take time for themselves

In doing these 3 things they are empowered individuals and they empower those around them. Core-led women role model empowerment for themselves and others. In doing this we can change the world and the world of work.

I am committed and passionate about creating a core-led woman revolution, where we will be ditching frameworks and coming out as our true core-led selves. 

Kelly

Kelly is the Burnout Prevention Strategist for leaders who are done with being exhausted, overwhelmed, and on the brink of burnout. Clients hire her to help them regain control of their busy lives and create the time, space, and energy for the things that matter. 

Find out more about Kelly and her work at kellyswingler.com

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