Talking Beyond Talk #10: Correct for Improvement

SoundWave correct voice for improvement

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Setting The Tone for The Correct Voice 

The correct voice is one of the more ‘controversial’ voices that we’ve seen in SoundWave. As the least preferred voice amongst our respondents, it is also perhaps one of the more directive verbal strategies. One would always know what to expect with the correct voice; it is often clear, firm and succinct in its use, and doesn’t leave room for non-compliance. 

In everyday life, the sound of this voice protrudes. “Not like that; like this”; “to the left, not the right”; “to do it properly, you need to do this first”. In western Europe and North America, we can recoil at its sound at its implicit attack on individual judgment; in the East, it carries more of the spirit of collective identity. 

More sophisticated use of the voice is to nudge and guide others, allowing them freedom of action until that actions’ freedoms threaten agreed rules, norms, standards or expectations – “that’s fine up until here. From this point, we need to make sure that…”

Correct Voice: The Hidden Power  

In SoundWave, the correct voice refers to the management of boundaries. It is to be clear and direct with people about the standards and expectations for which they are responsible and for which they need to react or meet. It is also to be able to help others to adjust their thoughts or actions by delivering respectful ‘correctional conversations’ which drive compliance and development. Its power goes way beyond the simple barking of instructions!

At one level, this ‘managing of boundaries’ is all around us so it’s easy to miss the full impact of its brilliance. Just watch the way in which skilled teachers illustrate preferred methods in science or math. Or even in the way an employee might ‘correct’ the wayward individual’s lack of attention to the health and safety requirements of their environment. 

The correct voice tends to be ‘rule-oriented’. There is no middle ground—it is either acceptable or unacceptable. It is the guide that tells us what went wrong, and what needs to be done for us to reach where we need to go. No wonder then, that we correct for improvement!

Using the Correct Voice Too much, And Too Little

Sherlock Holmes says in The Great Game, “People do not like telling you things, they love contradicting you.” As humans, we have a natural disposition to let people know that we are right. Conversely, people rarely enjoy being told what to do or having their mistakes pointed out. Perhaps this is the reason why using the correct voice can be tricky. As a voice of control, it can be prone to quick misunderstandings and conflict when unregulated.

Over-using this voice can make its recipients feel punished. As the voice that brings improvement, the correct voice points out our mistakes by its nature. When we focus too much on the wrongs, we sound as if we are imposing a penalty on the other party over a perceived fault or violation, making them feel humiliated. In turn, this risks defensive behaviour from them, leading them to rebel or retreat. 

But without correction, there is no control, no adherence and no boundaries. A failure to correct when correction is needed amounts to a lost opportunity to establish discipline and standards. It is akin to a world without laws—simply chaos!

How to Correct For Improvement Skilfully?

With great power comes great responsibility, and the correct voice is a testament to this. Correctors are naturally more adept at looking for gaps in standards and expectations. Think of them as scanning machines that we encounter in airports, looking for anomalies and sounding out when things don’t match the requirements. 

However, just because a person is corrected, doesn’t mean that they adhere or are open to improvement. This is why skilful use of the correct voice starts with making sure that you have the authority, obligation or relationship. This ensures that the other party is receptive to receiving the correction.
To fully exploit the brilliance of the correct voice, it is important to: 
  1. Be clear, firm, direct and brief. Define the requirements and clarify the outcome that is acceptable or not acceptable. Remember, with the correct voice, less is more.
  2. Ensure that there is a need for correction before acting upon it. A brilliant way to do this would be to pair it with one of the asking voices. 
  3. Use listening to look out for gaps in standards. This will improve your correction to be more targeted while making you more credible. 
The correct voice is precarious in its impact—there is a thin line between correcting to provide direction and punishment. When we correct skilfully, people are more informed about what they need to do and become more confident about your faith in them. Arch correctors are natural instructors; articulately explaining what needs to be done and directing the thinking and actions of others using well-established methods and practices. 

Where do you stand on the correct voice? Take our SoundWave Brilliance 3 Communication Assessment to find out your top preferred voices!

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Maalikka is the latest addition to SoundWave's team of marketing and content extraordinaries. As an avid reader, writer and learner, she’s always on the lookout for new information online or interesting conversations to inspire her. Her other passions include gaming, Netflix, and cats.

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