(Barré) #1

touch at the right moment. The way we use our voices also influences
how our words are interpreted. The same sentence can be said
in many different ways, ranging from bland disinterest to passionate
intensity. Each delivery spells out a different subtext.
For instance, when former president Jimmy Carter spoke off
the cuff his normal speech pattern lent a pleasant, down-home,
and honest subtext to his words. When he spoke formally, however,
before an audience or for television, his voice became stilted
and he would pause at awkward intervals, sending a message of
uncertainty and uneasiness.
Who knows? Proper coaching might have changed his speaking
pattern and subtext, perhaps increasing his popularity, and eventu-
ally changing the course of history.
In contrast, the subtext behind former president Ronald Reagan's
speech pattern was one of ease and reassurance. It sent the message
"I'm a good fellow. You can trust and like me." Maybe his acting
career had shown him the value of subtext in communication and
how it can affect an audience.
The image we project is another form of subtext. How many of
us have walked down a city street and watched uneasily as a
group of young men in ripped jeans and leather jackets have
come toward us? Are they ordinary, harmless citizens, we wonder,
or is there something threatening about them? Is there reason to
be apprehensive, or should we shrug our feelings off? The same
group approaching us in business suits and ties would arouse no
such apprehension. Why? Quite simply, they would project a differ-
ent subtext, one that's reassuring and ordinary.

In most established businesses, such as law firms and brokerage
houses, there is a rigid protocol of dress. Your appearance, the
thinking goes, should inspire confidence in your customers; the
subtext should be one of assurance, one that will convince clients

Free download pdf