The voice is an invaluable instrument in looking after patients. And we don’t mean switching on the TV on a Saturday night for lashings of will.i.am and Tom Jones. The ward may be frantic and busy but you convey warmth, calm and intimacy with your voice. You are there for the patient, concerned about them.
Our voices convey more than just information, opinions and quirky versions of our favourite songs. If we sound excited, for example, the person listening to us will be more interested in listening to us. Famous sports commentators are able to convey the excitement of events, even when, if they’re honest, things are a little more routine. (Although we’ve yet to hear anyone who can make bowls sound thrilling.)
On a ward, voices can have a positive or negative effect. A member of staff may be trying to convey concern and warmth, but if they’re speaking in a monotone with a detectibly sarcastic note in it, the patient will pick up the negative message more strongly than the intended one. (And of course this will be reinforced if there’s contradictor y body language.)
But looking at things more positively (!), voices can be a huge help in making patients feel better. Even hearing a really painful message can be softened if the member of staff is careful to use a gentle, caring tone of voice. In fact, there are a surprising number of elements making up what one’s voice sounds like which is why it’s so important for staff to be aware of how they we sound to others.
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