Voice and words don't match
January 18, 2013 12:01 PM Subscribe
What do you do when someone has trouble hearing and moderating their own tone of voice? They often come off harsher and more hostile than they intend when they are frustrated.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson to Human Relations (24 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
If he is under stress his voice takes on an undeniable harsh, hostile edge that he is apparently unaware of. It doesn't really matter who he is speaking with or what he is talking about, when he has reached that level of frustration his tone of voice comes off as angry. Not shouty or scary. More irate and exasperated and intensely frustrated. He could be telling me that tomorrow evening we're having fish for supper and he would sound angry about it even though I know it is his favourite. He could be thanking me for emptying the dishwasher but he would sound sarcastic and insincere when I know it is absolutely sincere and it wasn't sarcastic. Basically, he just sounds pissed off at the world and everything in it. Even when he talks to himself (which is often) he will be speaking with hostility in his voice. I'd understand and be more-or-less okay with him being cranky at me if I did something to piss him off. But this is when no one has done anything to earn his crankiness.
When I call him out on it he always says "But I'm not angry with you" or something along those lines. His thought is that since he wasn't angry at whoever he was speaking to, he didn't speak to them that way. OR if he did, they should hopefully be able to over look it and understand that he isn't angry at them. He has asked that I try to hear what he is saying and not react to his tone of voice when he gets that way, but I can only do that so much before I get frustrated myself.
- A big part of the problem is that he is slow to realize/acknowledge when he is in a bad mood or particularly stressed out.
- He has said over and over that he just DOESN'T hear his tone of voice, and he is totally unaware when he does it and I believe he is telling the truth when he says this. I really don't think he hears himself speaking that way.
- He has also admitted that this has been something people have called him on for most of his life. I'm not the first to bring it up, but I am the first to approach it calmly and see it as something WE can work on instead of some big flaw of his.
- He usually ends up feeling guilty for it when I call him out on it because he doesn't like having his loved ones think he is angry with them when he isn't. Sort of the same way you'd feel guilty finding out that you had horrible BO all day and you sicked everyone out by your stench but you only found out later. Keeping with the BO metaphor, he wants to learn how to keep his stink contained AND hopefully learn not stink at all.
Because this is AskMeFi and a lot of us (myself in included) are always keeping an eye out for red flags and warning behaviours, and I don't want people to think I'm in some disfunctional relationship with an angry douche nozzle of a man, it bares stating my fiance is awesome. He is thoughtful, affectionate, caring, generous, and considerate. He is hard working, an amazing father, a phenomenal lover, and hilarious and entertaining and fun. He makes me feel extremely loved and protected and safe, but also makes me feel strong and capable. When we have arguments/disagreements, there is never yelling or name calling or anything like that. It doesn't get angry or mean. At worst he will occasionally "talk a walk" mid-argument to clear his head and keep things from getting heated. We always are able to discuss and talk things out, and resolve things respecfully. I love him and I feel extremely lucky to not only have him in my life, but that I get to look forward to spending my life with him. High fives all around. I say this because this issue is NOT some damning deal breaker type thing. It isn't abusive, harmful, wounding, or mean-spirited. It is relatively infrequent (couple times a month at most) and mostly it is just annoying. It is annoying having someone be cranky/angry with you when you didn't do anything to earn it and when they don't really feel that way.
ALSO, and this is important I think, he DOES want to change this about himself. He is finally admitting it happens (have had impartial 3rd party witness and comment on it recently and confirm everything I've been saying) and he wants to do better at it. This isn't just me saying "FIX HIM!". This is both of us looking for ways to improve this. I'm also not looking for 100% success rate.
So what do you think? How can I help him be more aware of his tone of voice? Or what can he do on his own to control it better?