Have you heard of “voice confrontation”? That feeling of surprise, dislike, or maybe even disappointment or disgust when you hear your own voice playing back to you? It never seems to fail for me. I’ve held two positions in the past where I spent most of the time on the phone with customers. When I was obliged to listen to recordings of my calls to evaluate myself and then meet with my manager, sometimes the worst part wasn’t worrying about how I’d messed up on this one call or how I saw in retrospect I could have handled something much differently. Sometimes it was simply hearing my own recorded voice.
Did I really sound like that? That has always been the question. While singing in the ASU Women’s Chorus and later more often after I started voice lessons, I’d record myself periodically to pick out areas for improvement. I’ve gotten a little more used to it, but I often still shudder a bit.
I realize this is common for most, if not all of us. This article from The Guardian delves into reasons for this phenomenon of disliking the sound of our own voices beyond the fact that yes, it sounds differently to us when we’re speaking than it does to others or in a recording. The reasons are fascinating and it’s a great read, but it also points out that we’re likely our toughest and probably only critic. So why should we care if no one else will judge?
At a private release party I held for friends for Beside Them in Nature’s Mirror, I did several readings out of the book. Something interesting happened. While I read, I recognized when, oh no, I just read that line in a way I didn’t want to. It wasn’t quite the right emotion, not enough, maybe not articulate enough etc. But when I was sent back some recordings and listened, I felt that I didn’t do as badly as I originally thought.
Also, I sent out the welcome email for my first few followers of my newsletter and despite the frustration of figuring out how to make it look like I wanted it to, the next morning I was happy with the results. I included a recording as my free gift for signing up. You can hear it when you sign up for my newsletter via the button on the top right of my site’s homepage, or on the side bar to the right of this post. The reason I was happy with the results is that one person messaged me and complimented me on my reading of the poem I included, even suggested that I do books on audible. Wow! I’ve been thinking lately of audio books, open mics, doing private readings for friends that are recorded and shared to larger audiences later etc. for a while now. I’ll report on how that’s going here, and may even share some audio and video in my newsletter of these! I reported this story to a friend, the one who suggested I start using my voice more to read my own work. So what made my day made his day and what a lovely occurrence that was.
So, the lesson here is, don’t be afraid of your own voice. Even if you don’t feel that your words came out perfect, your voice may have made someone else feel something and pay attention! There is a special power in the spoken word that the written word cannot reach.
If you dread hearing your own recorded voice, what have you tried to do to overcome the discomfort? I’d love it if you’d leave a comment below!