There’s a difference.
A loud voice may have nothing important to say but because its loud, everyone listens. Sometimes we need people to say something loud – like when the building is on fire – but not very often.
Here’re some words I came upon this morning that got me thinking about deep voices:
“Sink me a well to water all this land: […] release the nether springs.”*
‘A million people can build what you’ve built. How do you make yourself the one who solves the problem?’**
‘In how many situations are we given the gift of spending time talking about a kind of heartbeat life – music, people, connections, meaning?’^
“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of who you really love. it will not lead you astray.”^^
David George Haskell writes of the voice of the Amazonian rainforest. It doesn’t speak as loudly as our cities but what it does have to say brings us life from the mighty lungs of our planet. Maria Popova includes these words in her delightful post on the songs of trees:
“Winds sometimes bring pulses of dust from Africa or smog from a city, but mostly the Amazon speaks its own tongue. With fewer seeds and abundant water vapour, raindrops bloat to exceptional sizes. The rain falls in big syllables, phonemes unlike the clipped rain speech of most other landmasses.
We hear the rain not through silent falling water but in the many translations delivered by objects that the rain encounters.”*^
We have much to learn from this giant silence if we’re to find our own authentic voice. Ken Mogi writes about depth over loudness, I think, when he proffers:
‘In order to have ikigai [life purpose], you need to go beyond the stereotypes and listen to your inner voice.’^*
Going with the stereotype sometimes means becoming louder and louder if we’re to be noticed and, before we know it, the world is shouting. We see this in many ways, as Michael Bhaskar identifies here:
‘For the past two hundred and fifty years our technologies have been directed at boosting our productivity. To producing more. More goods, more food, more data, more stuff.’⁺
The world is shouting solutions at us but what are the problems? Perhaps Bhaskar is helping us in this direction when he suggests:
‘In a world of too much, selecting, finding and cutting down is valuable.’*
Edgar Schein points us in the direction of questions over answers and provides us with four kinds of inquiry that help us go deeper rather than louder:
‘The helper can be in the process consultant role and still have choices of how to play that role. I have found it very helpful to differentiate four fundamentally different kinds of inquiry:
- pure inquiry
- diagnostic inquiry
- confrontational inquiry
- process-oriented inquiry’⁺⁺
Each of these forms of inquiry takes our voice deeper.
The opposite of a loud voice is not a quiet one, rather, it is a deep voice. In loud spaces, it’s funny how I can hear some people’s voices really easily. They’re not shouting, there’s simply a quality to the tonality of their voice that means I can hear them.
Don’t raise your voice to me, take it down a little deeper.
(*Andy Raine, quoted in the Northumbria Community‘s Morning Prayer.)
(**From gapingvoid’s blog: The golden rule to unlimited customer devotion.)
(^Aaron Johannes from Drawn Together by Visual Practice.)
(^^Rumi, quoted in Elle Luna’s The Crossroads of Should and Must.)
(*^David George Haskell, quoted in maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: The Songs of Trees.)
(^*From Ken Mogi’s The Little Book of Ikigai.)
(⁺From Michael Bhaskar’s Curation.)
(⁺⁺From Edgar Schein’s Helping.)