Ladies, this one’s for you. Actually, fellas, it’s for you, too.
As a woman in the workforce, it can take years of building a solid reputation to ensure we’re taken seriously. While we have made strides toward a more equal workforce, the fact remains, like it or not, that women still have to work harder to be taken seriously and “have a seat at the table” with the big dogs. Being in tune with the things we do (which we may not even be aware of) that can be detrimental to our success is crucial to ensuring we continue to keep the pace of moving women forward in the workplace.
One such attribute sweeping the voices of young women everywhere is the “vocal fry”. Not sure what it is? Pause here and check out this video that basically sums up this entire blog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_LmC-ynqGM.
Call me old, but it drives me crazy when I hear a young woman representing her company or law firm talking with this low pitched, ambivalent sounding intonation. I want to ask, “do you really think you sound like a professional? don’t you realize how much credibility and confidence you lose by doing that with your voice at work?” For the longest time I thought maybe it was just me being too picky. So, recently, after yet another instance of this distracting bad habit that some women (and guys, you do it too!) intentionally try to cultivate, I looked it up. Google is my friend. There are articles all over the internet about how women interviewing for jobs are less likely to get a job when they use this growly voice. They sound uncertain, less self-assured or not competent.
Here’s an article from Business Insider that specifically talks about how vocal fry can be distracting to those listening to you : http://www.businessinsider.com/upspeak-vocal-fry-hurt-your-reputation-2015-7
While I understand this phenomenon is becoming more and more common, in the workplace, it comes across as though that person doesn’t really care. They’re just too cool to get anything done. There’s absolutely no way (in my mind) that this person can have a sense of urgency or attention to detail if they’re in never never land talking like Kim Kardashian.
Denise Stats-Caldwell, clinical associate professor and speech-language pathologist at the ASU College of Health Solutions says, “True vocal fry is a lazy, kind of low-pitched voice … and that low-pitched guttural voice can be because of how the person is using their voice. It has been tied to women being perceived as uncertain and lacking in confidence when they interview. That’s the detriment because as women we really want to present ourselves as confident, intelligent and prepared.”
To the young women out there catching yourselves using vocal fry, I encourage you to tune in to how people seem to perceive you as you speak to them. Ask for feedback from those close to you. Do they notice you doing it? What are their thoughts about it? Regardless of what you think of vocal fry, since it’s such a highly contested phenomenon, I guarantee you’d most likely benefit from putting the brakes on the fry.
Chief Operating Officer
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
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