The Voices

A good friend of mine just finished writing his first book. Actually, he wrote most of it 20+ years ago for his doctoral dissertation; however, it took him until now to turn his ideas into 200 pages of bound print.

Anthony Rogers, PhD – working with Holly Davis – designed a model for skilled dialogue: whenever we engage with others there is an exchange of four possible voices: Authority, Transparency, Curiosity and Empathy.

Authority is about setting direction with the goal of creating alignment and action. It’s the voice where you show someone the way: “I expect…,” “We will…,” “Let’s go….”

Transparency involves revealing context and developing trust. It’s how you share your intent: “I think…,” “I feel…,” “I don’t know….”

Empathy helps clarify meaning and generates a connection with the other person. It lets him/her know you are listening to understand: “I hear that…,” “I imagine that…,” “I appreciate that….”

Curiosity leads to uncovering options and releasing creativity by exploring the other person’s view more deeply: “What’s going on?” “What’s on your mind?” “I wonder if…?”

Everyone has a dominant voice and at least one that is underutilized. My ‘power voice’ is transparency, followed closely by curiosity. On the flip side, I rarely lead with authority and seldom openly express empathy.

Understanding the four voices leads to better communication, especially when – with practice – you master the art of being intentional about the voice you are using at any given time. A good starting point is to think about your most and least used voices. What are yours?


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