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The impact of our words and tone

Word choice and tone of voice mirror a person's attitude and intention. By choosing our words with care and adapting our tone to the situation, we can influence the emotional effect of our message. The key here is to stay close to ourselves and demonstrate an authentic style of communication.

Every day we engage in a wide range of conversations, including email, phone calls, formal presentations, text messages, online discussions and social media activities. We no doubt are used to sharing information in sophisticated ways. But are we aware that our choice of words as well as our tone of voice will influence the emotional effect of our message? Are we able to anticipate which emotions our words will trigger in others - joy, motivation, love, fear, anger or pain?

Karin, a long-term TalkShop member and science fiction and fantasy lover, shares the following lines by one of her favorite authors, Ursula K. LeGuin, with us: Socrates said, "The misuse of language induces evil in the soul." He wasn't talking about grammar. [...] Language used as a means to get power or to make money goes wrong: it lies. Language used as an end in itself, to sing a poem or tell a story, goes right, goes towards the truth.

In our poetry workshops, we focus on word choice and tone, among other things. Participants explore, experience and reflect on the effect of their words and tone. Interactive learning activities, including role play and spontaneity techniques, support them in discovering their authentic style of communication in the foreign language. Like this, they can develop an effective communication behavior.

We appreciate what Ursula K. LeGuin said about (good) writers and think it applies to all effective communicators: “A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight. By using words well they strengthen their souls. Storytellers and poets spend their lives learning that skill and art of using words well. And their words make the souls of their readers stronger, brighter, deeper.”

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