Are You Asking Me or Telling Me??

I watched an interview recently on BBC Breakfast where the Business Editor, Steph, was interviewing the CEO of a power company.

There they were – balanced precariously on those ridiculously high bar stool things with their mugs of coffee discussing something to do with the power industry.

I can’t recall anything of the content of the interview.  All I do remember thinking was “how on earth has he got to be a CEO?”

He looked presentable and I’m sure he’s probably a very nice chap but, he finished every sentence with an inappropriate inflection.  So, instead of sounding in full command of his facts he sounded as though he didn’t have the foggiest idea what he was talking about.   I feel it necessary at this juncture to say that he did appear to be of British extraction and not from the Southern Hemisphere.

Incorrect inflections are something that we cover increasingly in training sessions delivered around communication.  On a personal note, they have become a pet hate of mine since Craig pointed it out to me one day when we listening to someone speak.  It’s one of those annoying things, that now I know about it – I’m always listening for it!

When spoken with the incorrect inflection a request to deliver a piece of work can turn into a question that is then up for debate.  In our experience, this can and does lead on to numerous misunderstandings within the workplace and in extreme circumstances can result in poor leadership. 

For example, when delivering information in a meeting, as with the CEO interview (discussed above) it can make the audience call into to doubt the authority of the person speaking and therefore the integrity of the information delivered.

Inflections fall very much into the category of ‘it’s not what you said, it how you said it!’ So beware the dreaded upturn unless you’re actually asking a question.