Working in a call center, as I do currently, I take a large number of phone calls each day. Sometimes these customers have had experiences which have lead them to feeling stressed and disgruntled. As much as this kind of thing can get a little bit boring, I do find it quite interesting from the perspective of human interactions. What makes people say or do certain things? That kind of stuff.
There’s one particular pattern that I’ve noticed, but which I am not particularly pleased with. Normally when I speak to people, I have a normal, friendly voice. Some people have even said that I have a gentle or pleasant voice (and once they said it was sexy, but that was weird.) Anyway, as the only thing I ever do is take calls, I sometimes like to alter my voice in some ways in order to make it more varied for me.
One example, is that I intentionally tried to do a mild Scottish accent after I had been misidentified as Scottish. The next few callers actually were Scottish and they thought that I was one of them, which made me feel proud of my ability to mimic the accent. But that one was just a bit of fun.
Something else I have tried was a bit of a social experiment. Would they treat me any differently if I was very stern and professional, as opposed to using my regular, casual voice? And the answer to that question, is yes. The most easily noticeable thing is that they are more likely to call me “sir” (which I am pretty fond of) but what’s more interesting, is that they are more likely to take responsibility for their own mistakes if I speak in a very emotionless and professional voice and they’re less likely to be confrontational.
I guess it comes down to this: the customers view a gentle and polite voice as “weak” and so they think that it is easier for them to be “dominant” and are more likely to blame me for mistakes (even when it is them) or even to be downright rude. But, a stern and professional voice sounds to them more dominant and so they, in turn, they are less likely to challenge it. It’s unfortunate the friendliness doesn’t command the same level of respect as professionalism.