Last time I discussed the possibility of re-framing inexpert feedback on our voice, personality, presence or impact by exploring that feedback using The Vocal Presence Path™.

Here’s a reminder of the 7 Steps on the Path:

Acknowledge and Release your Soul Suckers™
Root in a Sense of Purpose
Embody What’s Important
Breathe Life into the Experience
Energize Yourself and the Space
Connect (truly, madly, deeply) with Others
Take Others along for the Ride

And here are the examples of inexpert, outside-in feedback …

“Sometimes you’re vibrant, full of life and inspiring and other times you come off as arrogant.” “You have no impact when you speak.” “You come off as a wimp.” “You come off as arrogant.” “People sometimes think you’re a bitch.” “Your voice is strident.” “Your voice is grating.” “You’re too meek.” “You take up too much space in meetings.” “You’re a bully.” “You have great ideas but you’re not being heard or respected” “You need to be more forceful.”

Last week I asked you to consider which steps you might explore in relation to each comment. First, whichever steps you came up with … you’re right. My experience is that turning to The Vocal Presence Path in a mindful way will create a useful difference in your impact because they ground you in authenticity and the Voice of Your Soul.   And, two key places that I would look when working with a client and third party feedback are Embodying What’s Important and Breathing Life into the Experience.

When faced with the opportunity to engage with another or many other human beings, we often avoid the place of true engagement and connection out of fear of being rejected.  We either withdraw, half connecting as if we are testing the waters or trying to get the others to jump into the connection before we will commit (Relationship Engagement A – Avoid), or we work too hard, attempting to make connection happen by force (Relationship Engagement C – Control).

With comments like “You come off as a wimp,” “You’re too meek,” “You have no impact when you speak,” “You have great ideas but you’re not being heard or respected” and “You need to be more forceful” I would first explore how a person is engaging with the world around them.  I would be on the lookout for the client unconsciously adopting the Avoid posture and energy.

With comments such as “People sometimes think you’re a bitch,” “Your voice is strident,” “Your voice is grating,” “You take up too much space in meetings” and “You’re a bully” I would be suspicious of the client unconsciously choosing the Control posture and energy.

In both of these types of cases, I would work with the client to practice finding and consciously engaging from B – Balance. In addition, I would ask them to Breathe Life into the Experience by using the Nourishing Breath.  Sometimes people are already in Balance, but they fail to inhale enough air or to speak using that breath supported by their core to fill the room.  If they don’t inhale enough air and don’t support with their transversus abdominus muscle, they may only be speaking loud enough to hear themselves. They may not realize that, to the rest of the room, they almost seem like they are whispering. Conversely, if a person is pushing with the throat they may generate volume, but it results in a sort-of “throat bluff:”  The throat is doing so much work that it actually clamps down on the natural resonance and life of the person’s voice.  This can result in a feeling of bullying or a “grating” or “strident” sound, even when the person is otherwise engaging from Balance and does not intend to bully anyone.

How about this comment: “Sometimes you’re vibrant, full of life and inspiring and other times you come off as arrogant.”  In many ways, this is the trickiest one.  I’d suspect that, on a day-to-day basis, the person receiving the feedback engages from Balance while speaking on the air with adequate support. However, in heightened or crisis situations, this person may choose to Control OR they stop breathing and end up supporting their voice with excess effort in the throat.

Now, think back over the feedback you’ve received throughout your life. Is there a theme? If so, play with consciously choosing to engage from Balance while Breathing Life into the Experience and notice your impact from there.