Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

Tone of Voice: How Do You Sound to Your Family?

Notice your reactions when someone in your household growls or barks at you.

It's no fun for kids when parents speak harshly to them, or to each other.
Source: HaywireMedia/FotoSearch

Do you sometimes growl? Or bark? If so, you may be infecting your family with hurtful emotional energy.

Sure, you may sometimes feel tired, hungry, or overwhelmed. Still, expressing your concerns via an irritated, frustrated, or angry voice can contaminate your household with toxic "you're not OK," or "you idiot," or "I don't like you" messages. Negative energy from your voice can hurt everyone who hears it—you included.

Do you really want to have toxic impacts on the people whom you most care about? And whom you rely on to care about and for you? Do you really want them to dislike you? If not, the good news is that you can decide to eliminate sending out voice-conveyed poison.

Three steps for preventing old habits of talking too harshly to those with whom you live.

Step 1: Become far more aware of when your voice conveys calm and positive energy versus a negative harsh, defensive, critical, or demanding message.

Step 2: As soon as you notice that you are slipping into growling or barking mode, pause. Step back long enough to return to a calm state.

Step 3: Find a more pleasant and even good-humored way to convey your concerns. You may be delightfully surprised at how much more effective you become at getting what you want by speaking in a respectful and friendly explanatory tone of voice. Another payoff—a quieter and positive tone of voice enhances mutual affection instead of hurting your loved ones' feelings.

That's the short version of why and how to switch habits of speaking in voice tones that are emotionally toxic to habits of collaborative dialogue. For sure, upgrading your communication habits can have huge mental health benefits for you and also for everyone in your family.

Check out my book and workbook called The Power of Two for a further understanding of how your tone of voice impacts your and your household, and how to relatively easily opt for more harmony.

More from Susan Heitler Ph.D.
More from Psychology Today
More from Susan Heitler Ph.D.
More from Psychology Today