I have been thinking lately about shyness, more specifically my shyness! When I was a young girl I was so shy and as timid as a mouse. I blushed and tripped over my words even speaking to people I knew. I would avoid situations where I would be in a group and I avoided what could have been good opportunities for me. I was so scared - scared of being laughed at, scared of looking silly and scared of being rejected.
I am much better now. I will speak to pretty much anyone. I still get nervous and there are times when I would rather hide away and avoid all attention. I am now able to suppress my nerves to the point where I can speak and appear quite confident. I am not a loud speaker, I don't shout or even raise my voice. I still want to get my point across clearly and to be taken seriously. I am sure that it is possible to be modest and yet, still able to speak with confidence and awareness.
I think a big part of being good at conversing is your voice. After all your voice is a talking representation of you. Shakespeare said "Her voice was ever soft, gentle and low; something rare but excellent in a woman." Speech is a vital method of communication, it forms an impression of you in the mind of others and it is how you communicate your values and ideas.
Many different impressions can be made by your tone of voice. I am guilty of speaking in a snappy manner when I am tired and sometimes my voice betrays some uncharitable boredom I may be feeling. I think that tone is almost as important as the content of what you say.
A soft answer turneth away wrath but grievous words stir up anger. Proverbs 15 : 1
I am working on having a voice that is not shrill or harsh but that is soft and sweet and interesting. I read once that to make your voice more pleasant to listen to you should read aloud from a child's book of fairy tales. It feels a little silly especially when there are no children to read to! I am learning to put happy words into my speech and to emphasise those words when saying them.
So rather than say
"Thank you for a nice day" I would say "Thank you for a wonderful day."
"I will attend the party" will become "I would love to attend the party."
Smiling when you speak really helps too. It truly sounds in your voice and expresses your sincere feelings. Trying not to speak in a monotonous way also helps you to sound interesting. A voice that is all one tone can make even the most exciting story sound dull and uninteresting. Lead upwards towards the important words in your story to accentuate them.
I am working hard to control my speech too. A woman's voice is usually higher pitched by nature and if excited or emotional it can become shrill. I know that when I am nervous my voice gets higher and faster and out of control. If you speak at a slower pace it sounds more confident and more assured. People will listen and take you seriously without you needing to shout. I feel that a soft, gentle voice is a ladylike voice and that is my aim.
I have a post in mind to follow this one in relation to conversation. After all, it is one thing to speak prettily but you need something to speak about!