I think Teddy Roosevelt had the right idea. He said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Of course, I’m not taking the quote literally and I don’t advise you to carry a stick everywhere you go. However, I do recommend that you speak softly and be prepared to put your foot down, when needed. There will likely come a time when soft and kind doesn’t work. This is when you will need a “big stick.” In other words, you will need to be firm and willing to take a stand. This principle can be applied in every aspect of your life. It works with family, children, and friends. It also works in business with clients, vendors, employees, and bosses, too.
When I was in college, I learned how the “speak softly” technique works with children. At the time, I was doing a teaching practicum, where college students helped to teach a kindergarten class. The kindergarten class had about 30 children with two official teachers and four college students to oversee things.
The weather had been yucky for several weeks. The children were antsy because they had been cooped up inside for far too long. The lead teacher, a college student, decided to do some inside activities instead of going outside. She tried to get the children’s attention but the kids were loud and couldn’t hear her. The practicum-teacher raised her voice so she could be heard over the children’s noise. Let me tell you now. You can’t out yell 30 kindergarteners! Finally, one of the supervising teachers started quietly singing a clean-up song and walking around. It worked like a charm! The children HAD to get quiet to hear the song.
Generally, when speaking to adults, you don’t sing. I state the obvious because I have been known to sing things to my husband, under my breath of course. One of my favorite songs was “Somebody’s gonna hurt someone, Before the night is through, Somebody’s gonna come undone. There’s nothin’ we can do.” Anywho, speaking in a soft tone of voice is a great way to talk to adults as well. People have to listen harder to hear what you are saying. Think about it. How many times have you spoken to someone in a soft tone and had someone else ask what you were whispering about?
Businesses have known for years that a soft voice or whisper gets people’s attention. Remember the Coty perfume commercial? The catch phrase said that if you wanted to get someone’s attention, you should whisper. Then there were the EF Hutton commercials where someone quietly mentioned EF Hutton and everyone stopped to listen.
The next time you feel that aren’t being heard, try a soft tone or whisper. You may find that it gives you the results you want. If that doesn’t work, there is always the “big stick.”