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It's not what you say, it's how you say it. There are so many different factors that contribute to how your message is perceived: your body language, facial expressions and, maybe most importantly, your tone of voice and how you actually speak.
A new book, "Successful Women Speak Differently" by Valorie Burton, delves into this very timely topic. In the book, Burton provides tips and advice for how women should adjust their speaking style to boost their success. She joined TODAY to share a few key tips:
1. Don't upspeak.
"It's so important to pay attention to how you sound," stressed Burton. Though not enough of us think about it, our voices convey our emotions — and could be holding us back.
"Upspeak" is when you dramatically soften a statement by making it sound like a question at the end, which indicates uncertainty. Instead, your voice should command attention. Avoid turning statements into questions, but also avoid the dreaded "vocal fry," where your voice sounds monotone with no emotion. Simply, sound and act confident.
2. Channel your anxiety into excitement.
Nervous before a big meeting? Instead of telling yourself to "calm down," tell your brain (and in turn, your body) that you're simply excited. According to Burton, excitement, like anxiety, is a high arousal state and the two emotions are much more closely aligned than calmness and anxiety. Thus, it is a much smaller leap to go from anxious to excited than to go from anxious to calm.
So tell yourself that you're excited, and really believe it.
3. Speak truthfully and accurately.
According to Burton, a lot of women get hung up on the idea of being positive all of the time, but being positive is not essential to success.
It's more beneficial to your career to address when pessimism, or speaking negatively, is actually needed. Be truthful and accurate about challenges facing a task or project and then speak positively about your ability to overcome them.
4. Keep in mind the likability factor.
Your ability to influence people and allow them to see your viewpoint depends on how much they like you, according to Burton. Superficial? Yes, but Burton stressed that is how we're wired as humans and by understanding the process of how people come to a place of "liking" will increase your chances to succeed.
One important caveat to keep in mind: Not everyone will like you and that is OK. Just be your best self and take every opportunity to be kind, authentic and supportive to your co-workers.
5. Ask the tough questions.
Asking pointed, direct questions will help to eliminate confusion. It also empowers others to own their actions. In this day and age, having the right answer isn't as important. It's about asking what is expected of you and staying on task.