Voicing Disapproval

Why do we hate hearing our recorded voices?

We all know and cringe at that sound–our own voice.  It’s worse than fingernails streaking across a blackboard.  Worse than a baby wailing uncontrollably.  And worse than a shrill fire alarm sounding off at work.

Unless you have a rather unique (read: irritating) voice like Fran Drescher, you probably don’t mind hearing your voice as you’re speaking, but when you listen to your voice on a recording, that’s a whole other story.  Our recorded voice sounds different to us than our live voice, and when we hear our recorded voice, we’re shocked by it.  Some time back, I remember watching an interview with Barbra Streisand and being stunned to hear that she doesn’t like listening to her own recordings.  Babs, if you sounded like Rosanne Barr singing the national anthem, I’d understand, but how can YOU of all people not like your voice?

Believe it or not, we hear our own voice differently from the way other people do.  You can blame it all on the air.  The sound of our voice travels through the air to reach others, but to reach our own ears, it travels through body fluids and tissues that lie between our throat and head.  You can try this experiment to demonstrate the concept: have your friend scream underwater in a swimming pool and then again outside of the water.  If your friend hasn’t swallowed too much water, the scream will sound different in the water than it will outside of the water.

So, how do we actually get to like our voice?  Stop listening to the stupid outgoing message we make for our voicemail (especially if we’re singing a jingle).  Better yet, do what I do and keep the default message on your voicemail so your own message won’t haunt you night and day.  The one issue that has yet to be addressed–why can’t I sound as good as Barbra out of the shower as I do in the shower?

Why, indeed.


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