Why Your Tone of Voice Matters (Especially on the Phone)


In a telephone exchange, we can only rely on hearing. Because of this, your tone of voice is critical to your customer’s experience.

Dr. Albert Mehrabian, a professor at UCLA, is known for his 7-38-55 rule on the effectiveness and alignment of communication. It states:

  • 7 percent of spoken communication is comprehended from the words that are actually spoken (content).
  • 38 percent is comprehended in the way in which the words are spoken (tone of voice).
  • 55 percent is comprehended from facial expressions and body language (how you look).

When what we see and hear doesn’t align with what is actually said, we will believe what we see and hear. Thus, on the phone, your tone plays an even more important role in what you communicate.

Next time you’re on the phone, take notice: Is your tone uninterested, impatient and annoyed?

Or is it enthusiastic, helpful, caring and understanding?

If it doesn’t accurately reflect your commitment to quality customer service, it is imperative that you take steps to improve. Certain elements of one’s tone of voice such as pitch, volume, and enunciation can be improved through awareness, training, and performance coaching.

Remember: The listener can “hear” your smile!