I was listening to a podcast yesterday with Celeste Headlee titled “Having better conversations”

A segment on the power of voice grabbed my attention – here’s what I roughly transcribed…

Empathy is the most important skill for human beings, yet empathy has fallen in recent years due to technology.

Nick Epley, author of Mindwise and his colleagues did research that implies that it is the human voice that allows us to recognize one another as human beings. They had people read a dissenting opinion and then they would hear the exact same opinion read in someone’s own voice. When the opinion was read in any format, on a website, printed, etc, the people in the study were more likely to say that the person who wrote it disagreed because they were stupid and they don’t understand the core concepts. If they heard them say it in their own voice then they were more likely to think they don’t understand because they have different perspectives and different life experiences.

This means there is something inside of us that when we hear a voice, our brain goes “Oh human. One of ours. Part of my tribe”.

So obviously when we are living in a society where we are actively avoiding hearing other human voices and the human voice is what both helps us to recognize others as human beings and not “other” them and it is also what creates this otherworldly bond between people, then, of course, we are going to stop caring.

Have you ever called a friend up and all they’ve said is “Hello” and you say, “What’s wrong?” Think about that – that’s less than half a second and yet you have received all this complicated and nuanced information. There is no email that is more effective and efficient than that.

Like most people my age, I used to spend a great deal of time on the phone. And like most people of this age, I tend to text or message.

If empathy is the most important skill for us to have and the voice is the way empathy is employed, then it seems that the best way forward has been under our noses the whole time…

 Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash

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