“You’re Such a Bad Dog…”

I imagine some of us have had the experience of having a friend’s dog jump on us while its owner coos, “Oh, you’re such a bad dog… you’re the very worst dog in the whole world.”

Is the dog getting it? Absolutely not. Does your friend know how crazy making this is? Probably not.

Why is it ineffective? Because the tone and words don’t match.

I see the same thing happening when no canines are present. A speaker will get to the podium and say, “I’m so happy to be here today” while putting down their notes, adjusting their mike, smoothing their hair… all the while looking anything but happy.

Or you’ll be introduced to someone at a cocktail party who will say “Great to meet you” while looking over your shoulder to see if someone they’d prefer to meet is behind you.

Here’s the thing: you’ve got to put the “happy” into “happy” If you say happy, you have to sound happy. Your eye communication has to communicate happy. Your body has to express happy.

What happens when there’s a disconnect between your words and your tone?  Well, depending on the person (and your own mood…) you might end up flagging them as anything from nervous to self-absorbed to “too cool for school” to untruthful.

None of which make a favorable impression.

Is it easy to stay present for every introduction? No.

Does it make a difference? You bet.

The other reason I recommend this is that, as Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

The habit of bringing your full attention to the words you say—embodying them for your listener—means that in the moments when the stakes are high because you’re meeting your prospective boss, investor, fiancé, you’ll be ready.


For more on the importance of matching your tone to your message take a look at “Game of Tones: It Really Is About How You Say It”