I am someone who has always been known for how fast I speak. The funniest compliment or rather, comment that I got was – when I spoke to this young bunch of college graduates who had just joined the organisation. After I finished, they all clapped and said they loved how I spoke. And added saying, ‘although we didn’t understand much of it because you spoke so fast.’ Well, I didn’t know how to respond now. And I often heard from people that I spoke well but I spoke fast. I thought I wasn’t fast. I sounded normal to myself until one day, I was a part of a podcast for an hour. When I heard the recording, for the very first time in my life, I realised or understood fully – what people meant when they said I spoke fast. I sounded like chip n dale cartoon!!! I was embarrassed. I never heard myself speak before. This listening helped me change.
Once I understood I was sounding much faster than I imagined, I started paying attention to slowing down my rate of speech. It was a gradual process. I was intentional in slowing down. Today I am unconsciously slowing down. Can you believe what changed as a result?
The texture of my voice!!! I had no idea that slowing down the rate of speech can actually change the texture of my voice. It sounds sweeter, calmer now. (Not that the voice changes from a bear to a cat. But more as if from a bear which had something stuck in its throat to a bear with a clear voice. Sounds nice. Get the difference?) 🙂
I now hear that I have a calming effect when I speak! Earlier I used to have a rushed effect!
The biggest difference I see is, it gives me ample time to think of what I want to say next. So I don’t blurt out things. I was known for having my foot in my mouth quite sometimes in the past. But not anymore! Even if I don’t know what to say, the fact that I speak slower gives me more think time for what needs to come next. And also put breaks and change direction wherever necessary. Words don’t control me. I am more aware of them now.
And as a result, my breathing rate is normal. I can take pauses and gaps as I wish. I don’t feel out of breath or hyperactive after a continuous talk. And do you know what that means? Lesser reactions! A normal breathing rate in any conversation is the best gift we can give to ourselves. It gives us the power to respond than react.
As much as we pay attention to what we speak, changing how we speak can make a difference too, at many levels. It doesn’t mean talking fast is wrong or bad or talking slow is good. If you are someone who speaks way too slow, then for the sake of flexibility, try speaking a little faster and see what’s the effect. Flexibility is key. If we are typically used to doing something in a certain way, changing something about the way we do it might help us see things differently at times. What’s your style of speaking usually? And what might you want to try different for one day or one hour just to see what difference it might make? We never know unless we try.
For example, unconsciously some of us tend to speak a lot of the past or the future, or speak too much of details, or speak a lot about one particular subject or person, some of us tend to frown our brows while speaking, etc – observe your patterns in the way you speak today and see if you’d like to challenge yourself to do something different today. Life’s fun with some challenges, isn’t it? We can’t change our entire self in one day. But all these small tweaks add up and make a big difference.