Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Nice Voice

Since about the time I hit puberty, many years ago, I have had the misfortune of being severely challenged in the face-to-face interpersonal communication department. To put it quite simply, I am awkward. Speech, body language, the whole shebang; I just don't navigate casual social encounters with other humans very well. Naturally, the fact that I'm aware of my awkwardness manifests itself just as awkwardly, and the result leaves me looking introverted and antisocial to any stranger or distant acquaintance I may come in contact with (of course, good friends can just read my mind, and my parents just smile and nod and frantically hope that some day somebody will want to marry me.) This is bad, considering I have a job where I'm supposed to be able to talk to people and fix their problems. Recently, my boss hauled me in to her office to discuss complaints she's gotten that I have been brushing people off when they ask me questions. We talked about it and finally deduced that I'm not refusing to help, I just don't say anything before going to fix a problem. I also don't make eye contact, and I answer questions in a manner that tends to suggest that I hate everyone. Since I don't want to lose my job, I figured I ought to at least make some effort to come off friendlier, so people don't think I want to kill them, even when I do. It was then that I discovered "the nice voice."

Apparently I have two voices: the first being my normal voice which is deep and calm, and serves its purpose when it isn't stuttering like a motorboat engine. The second is high, cheerful, and inexplicably has a Southern accent. I have no idea why it is like this, but I also cannot do anything about it. As much as I may try, my friendly "customer service" voice continues to address everyone as 'darlin' and slip 'y'all' into the conversation at frequent intervals.

Usually I have some far-fetched answer that I can use to explain this sort of thing, but this time I can honestly say that I got nothing. All I know is that now, whenever I have a friendly conversation with somebody I am not very well acquainted with, I wind up very very confused.
I guess the "friendly" setting on my vocal chords somehow got stuck on "Southern Telemarketer." Typical. You don't use a feature for a while and then when you try to, the programming goes all wonky on you.
Well... I suppose I'd better start looking for the owners manual, or I'll get fired for not taking my job seriously...

Stupid mysterious vocal phenomenon...


Meg said...

The answer is obvious.

You don't have the "customer service" part of your brain. There's just an empty spot there.

A southern telemarketer from a parallel dimension where people are just floating spirits got stuck in this dimension.

She has taken up residence in the customer service center of your brain. So every time you now try to access that part of your brain, you're accessing her persona. And that's why you sound that way.

misssrobin said...

This seems important now, but in the future it will be okay.

There will come a time when snarky and direct will serve you well. And, yes, there are men who will fall in love with you for it.

I say, turn on the fake nice for a job if you want to. But never for anything else -- especially a man.

The Erin said...

Thanks for the insight, Meg :)
And especially thanks for the encouragement, Robin. I hate playing fake, and I never want to have to again if I don't need to.