To achieve Step 9, individuals will have to understand what is meant by ‘tone’, how it varies and what the impact of different tones of communicating can be.
In earlier steps, the focus was on listening effectively and demonstrating listening. This step, and Step 10, focus on increasing listeners’ understanding of how they could be influenced by the speaker.
The building blocks of this step are learning how to:
For now, imagine that someone is saying the same thing. For example, “Could you get that piece of work to me tomorrow?”
Without changing the words, the way that sounds and the meaning that it has can change a lot depending on the way that someone says those words.
It is amazing how much meaning comes from the way that something is said, rather than just what is being said.
We can refer to this way that something is said as the tone of speaking. This tone varies by several dimensions:
We can see how changes in tone have different effects on listeners:
In education, there are many opportunities to hear from speakers such as classroom discussions, assemblies, talks on a researched topic, or student council meetings. In each situation, it is important to understand a speaker’s tone. The tone that someone uses is very telling of the message they are trying to convey beyond the language they are using. In order for us to make informed decisions or agree upon a set of actions, it is important to understand how their tone might have influenced us. For example, we might be less convinced of an idea because someone is speaking with a high pitch which indicates they lack confidence in what they are saying. By being able to effectively understand how tone can influence us as listeners, we can be more critical in our approach to a subject or idea.
When listening to colleagues, clients or customers, care is required to ensure we understand their tone and how it might be influencing us. If a colleague or client is trying to convince us of a new idea, listening to someone who speaks quietly and in a high pitch might indicate that they have not fully thought through their concept. This can help us to make informed decisions that are right for the business.
Equally, it’s important we can recognise how someone’s tone might indicate how they are feeling so we can respond appropriately. For example, if a customer was sharing that they were dissatisfied with a product or service and they were speaking loudly, we might interpret this as aggressive and look to find support from a colleague or manager.
When speaking with others in our wider lives, it’s important to recognise their use of tone. By correctly understanding the speaker’s tone we can build a picture of how they are feeling and we can find the ways to best support and guide them with our response. Through doing this, we can also build stronger bonds with the people around us.
We might also interact with strangers when travelling around our local area or when attending a public event and understanding a speaker’s tone in these situations is also important. This can help us to stay safe in hostile situations but it can also support us to make new friends and connections with others.
To best practise this step of Listening, apply what you have learnt to a real-life situation. Choose one or more of the activities below, remind yourself of the key points and strategies in the step, and have a go!
To teach this step:
This is a step that can be routinely practised in a classroom setting. For example:
This step is best assessed through an assessed activity. For example:
This step will be relevant for people who have to work with customers, clients or other external stakeholders where there is influence involved.
To build this step in the work environment, managers could:
There are plenty of opportunities for building this skill step in the workplace:
For those already employed, this step can be assessed through questioning and observation. For instance:
During the recruitment process, this step could be assessed by:
We work with a wide range of organisations, who use the Skills Builder approach in lots of different settings – from youth clubs, to STEM organisations, to careers and employability providers.
We have a lot of materials available to support you to use the Skills Builder Universal Framework with the individuals you work with, including:
We also do a lot of work with organisations who join the Skills Builder Partnership to build the Universal Framework into their work and impact measurement systems. You can find out a lot more using the links below.
At home, you can easily support your child to build their essential skills. The good news is that there
are lots of ways that you can have a big impact, including: