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When you talk, what do people hear?

More than just the words you say, how you say them matters even more. Your tone conveys your emotions and thoughts–are you being passionate and proud, or are you condescending or dismissive? The same phrase said in different ways can mean very different things.

Perception is reality. So even if you say something that feels sincere to you, the person could hear it completely differently, and that becomes their reality.

Communication is about more than words–it includes your tone and body language. You might want to convey something in a certain way. It’s not your perception that matters but how other people perceive you.

Laurent Therivel, the CEO of US Cellular, told me a story from earlier in his career when he was brought into a struggling organization to turn things around. He had lots of ideas and got the company back on track. Afterward, he was called before the top executives and expected to be congratulated. Instead, he was let go. The reason? People didn’t like him. He had gotten his message across, but his tone had alienated him from other people.

To build trust and establish relationships, especially as a leader, you have to be self-aware of how you speak. It’s not just the words–it’s how you say it and how those words make people feel.

Listen for how the message is received when you speak and adjust as needed.

I put together a video which talks about this in more detail. Please check it out below and if you want more content like this you can subscribe to my Youtube channel.


This episode is sponsored by Workplace from Meta.

Workplace is a business communication tool from Meta. Think Facebook, but for your company.

It’s part of Meta’s vision for the future of work. A future in which we’ll all feel more present, connected and productive.

Start your journey into the future of work at