It’s Not WHAT You Say….It’s HOW You Say It

By Lisa Merlo Booth

When it comes to being an effective communicator, it’s not just about what you say…it’s also about how you say it.  Regardless of whether you’re talking to your boss, employee, child, lover or friend, if your energy is off, chances are you will not get the results you’re looking for in your relationships.

A key clue that our energy is off is a sharp tone.  We could be saying the most innocent thing in the world, yet if we say it with a tone it changes the entire message.  For example, try to say the following statement out loud, imagining you’re feeling the emotion named:

•    Annoyance: “What are you doing?!”
•    Contempt (thinking that the other person is stupid): “What… are you doing?”
•    Curiosity: “What are you doing?”

If you listen closely, you should be able to hear how a change in tone can change an entire message without changing one word.  Our tone and our energy are a huge part of communicating.   When speaking, we want to make sure our energy matches our words.  We also want to make sure that our energy is clean (respectful, grounded and honest) regardless of whether we’re angry, joyful or sad.  We can be furious with someone, yet still be clean in how we speak to them.  We can also be firm without being abusive or harsh.

When it comes to being an effective communicator, my motto is “Don’t let a great message get lost in the delivery.”  It’s in your best interest to speak in a way in which the other person can hear you, so clean up your side.  Your words, energy and body language all need to match up and all need to be respectful.  Say it straight, be honest and lose the tone.

CHALLENGE: When speaking to others, pay attention to your tone, energy and body language.  All three need to be sending the same message.  That message should be respectful of the other person’s dignity as a fellow and equal human being in order to be effective.

Lisa Merlo-Booth is a relationship coach. She has over 15 years of experience in the field of therapy and coaching and has worked with individuals, families and couples on a variety of life issues. She earned her Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from Pepperdine University in 1991 and has received her coaching training from Coach University. Lisa is the Director of Training for the Relational Life Institute owned by the renowned author, Terrence Real. Check out Lisa’s blog on relationships at

1 reply
  1. Vaughn
    Vaughn says:

    This was right on time. So true and applicable to my relationship

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