For the first ‘blog’ about my dissertation, I would like you to consider the picture below depicting a parent and child.
By saying “it was fine alright”, you would believe that the child had a good day at school. But now consider the sentence was said in a negative tone. Because this tone is opposite to the words’ implied positivity, the communication’s overall meaning changes drastically. In determining its meaning, not only the tone of voice is an additional source of information, so is the incongruence between the words and tone of voice. Why did the child use incongruent communication? Is the child hiding information or trying to give of a signal?
Verbal communication is an important source of information for researchers and practitioners across fields and industries. Among others, investors study the positive and negative language of managers to improve trading algorithms, interview transcripts are the primary source for any qualitative scholar, and telemarketing companies look at a prospective client’s words to gauge their state of mind. However, if we know that one’s tone of voice, and the relationship between tone and words, may alter a communications meaning, how valid are approaches that solely rely on a type of ‘word analysis’?
In a big data study of the incongruence in managers’ words and tone of voice, I find that this incongruence significantly influences analysts, and show that verbal communication is about so much more than the words themselves. As a former debater, these findings corroborate my own experiences, in that certainly words are important, but an argument is nothing without a proper delivery.
If you have questions or would like to know more about my work, feel free to send a PM!