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Are you Tone Deaf?

August 3, 2011

You boys can sit this one out.

When I was in 7th grade, I was in a class with a few of my buddies called Vocal Music.  Everyday we sang, which was not really my thing, partially because I was not really good at it.  As we were preparing for our class performance, the teacher came over to me and a couple of other guys and told us, “You guys can mouth the words, rather than sing out loud.”  Now, we can debate the psychological impact of statements like that, but the bottom line is that I was TONE DEAF.  I was not aware of how the music should really sound.  I am happy to report that while I would not call myself a great singer, I am now not afraid to sing out loud!!!

I think “tone deafness” is a real issue for many of us as fathers.  Communication experts say that 85-93% of communication has to do with  nonverbal cues.  Tone is the combination of our volume, pitch coupled with nonverbal cues.  What we say matters, but how we say it matters even more.  I can use the exact same words, “Go ahead, that’s fine.”, with my kids and depending on the tone there can be totally different meaning.   When, I use those words with a smile on my face and emphasize the word “Go” it has a positive connotation.  When, I have a stern look on my face and emphasize the word “fine”, the meaning is much more negative and likely produces shame.

One of the biggest blocks to becoming a great father is when we adopt a tone of impatience.  An impatient tone implies frustration and often  sends out the message, “I am disappointed” or “You’re not good enough.” to our kids.  It is hard not to be impatient with the teenager who is always running late or the younger child who always seems to make a mess.  I am not saying that our kids should not be accountable for their actions, they should be, but being a great dad is all in the delivery.  Great dads are able to express caring and love in situations where other dads have negative body language and harsh tones.  Great dads get their message out without shaming or destroying their relationships with their kids.

If you want to know what your tone is, watch the body language of your children when you talk to them.  Slumped shoulders and heads that are down are not a  good sign.  Eye contact and an open posture are what we are looking for. When you become a dad who is aware of his tone, your kids will benefit and the they may even let you “sing” in the choir.

Patrick Donohue is a Life Coach specializing in fathers who lives in Oak Park, IL

4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 3, 2011 7:52 am

    Great one Pat….keep em coming!

  2. August 4, 2011 9:47 am

    Good stuff, Pat! Works for marriage too:)

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