While getting my haircut the other day, before the hairdresser could ask for my name, he recognized me based on the sound of my voice. Throughout the years, I have received compliments on the distinct sound of my voice, but while hearing my voice recorded on voice mail, voice notes, or over video, I don’t hear anything distinct. Rather hearing my voice terrifies me. Anyone with me? The reality is that our voices don’t sound in the way than we think it sounds in our heads. Why is that?
Thankfully, you hear your voice differently than what it actually sounds like. Sound waves travel through the air and into your ears, vibrating your ear drums. The brain translates these vibrations into sound. When you talk, your brain translates the vibrations from your throat and mouth, and are transmitted by your neck’s bones. Your brain ends up translating two sounds, the sound waves from your own voice which travel from your voice to your ears, as well as the vibrations from your vocal chords. This double translation leads to an incorrect depiction on what your real voice sounds like.
We build an image of ourselves through our perception of how we sounds. Although, (and some of us are thankful for this), the sound we hear in our heads is a distorted version of our actual voices.
Even though we can’t understand what our voice actually sounds like, our voice and its surrounding connotations is important when communicating with others. The English word “yes” denotes affirmation, but this message can be changed when a tone of voice is changed. For example when we stress the word, we can portray excitement: “yesssss!”, or annoyance in a Darth Vader-esque low “yes”. Even though we cannot fully understand what are voice sounds like, we can control the intonation and connotation of our voice to share how we truly feel, intentionally or unintentionally, for others to truly hear us.