Why this skill step matters in education
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.
Why this skill step matters in the workplace
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.
Why this skill step matters in wider life
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.
How to practise this skill step
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!
- Listen to different audio clips either on the internet, on the television or in a film. If the clips are accompanied by a video, try to avoid watching it during this task. Start by picking out how the speaker or speakers are using or changing their tone. Consider their pitch, tempo, volume and intonation.
- As above but now try to identify how the speaker or speakers are feeling.
- As above but now try to identify the purpose of the speaker’s communication. Is it to give instructions? Are they asking questions? Are they trying to have a discussion?