In today’s digital age, there’s a significant focus on the visual. It’s easy to forget how important sound truly is. Between photos and videos with captions and transcripts, we often don’t have to actually listen to anything at all! Now, “listening” is a whole separate discussion, but I wanted to share an interesting study that is a good reminder of just how critical it is to use our voices – and that, apparently, this increases the likelihood of being perceived as intelligent! The coolest thing about this study is that it focuses less on what is said and how it’s said – and more on the fact that it simply be said at all.
In “The Sound of Intellect: Speech Reveals a Thoughtful Mind, Increasing a Job Candidate’s Appeal,” a study by the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, they examined “…how judgments of another person’s mental capacity—specifically, the capacity for reasoning and intellect—is affected by a cue directly linked to the person’s ongoing mental experience: his or her voice.”
To summarize, they discovered that “observers who hear communicators guess their actual thoughts and feelings more accurately than observers who read the exact same words in text.” “Across five experiments, evaluators who listened to job pitches were consistently more interested in hiring the candidates than were evaluators who read identical pitches.” “Evaluators who heard pitches also reported more favorable impressions of the candidates—liked the candidates more and had more positive and less negative impressions of the candidates—than did evaluators who read pitches.”
In other words, whatever subconscious cues they were communicating through their speech increased their likelihood of being hired. They were able to establish competency, likability and, presumably, trust. Simply by using their voice!
Even more fascinating, “evaluators who watched pitches did not evaluate the candidates’ intellect differently than evaluators who listened to pitches. Simply adding more individuating information about a candidate through visual cues, such as physical appearance and nonverbal mannerisms, had no measurable impact on evaluations of the candidate’s mind. Candidates’ intellect was conveyed primarily through their voice.”
Now, it should also be noted that the candidates studied were MBA students from the University of Chicago. These folks are trained in how to write and deliver an awesome pitch, so you would assume that they have the verbal and body language portion locked down. (All the more amazing that it was their voices that had the most impact!) However, they’re sharing educated concepts with purpose and intention, which is a significant distinction. I’m definitely not advocating for people to just start yammering away willy-nilly about their opinions. Please, no. However, I work with a lot of people who have super cool, creative ideas that, for one reason or another, they’re hesitant to share. SO, for those who rarely speak up because they’re worried about what people will think, this should be a great encouragement that, simply, your ideas need to be, quite literally, heard!
How could this information help people in their careers? In their relationships? With their goals? With their desire to accomplish beautiful things? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below! (And check out the full study online here!)