Vocal inflection is our single most important form of nonverbal communication, regardless of who we are or who we're with. We create it by varying the volume and pitch of our voices. More than anything else, it is what others use to make judgments about us. Are we in a good mood or a bad one, do we really care about what others think or are we just going through the motions, are we respectful or condescending, confident or unsure? Vocal inflection is where we find the answers to these questions.
Here’s something else to keep in mind. The importance of vocal inflection becomes even greater in the absence of other nonverbal cues. When we are on the telephone, for example, we are operating in a restricted environment. Others can’t see us and we can’t see them. It is a completely vocal exchange. Because of that we often feel we are not visible to the people we are talking with. But that's a mistake. Just because they can’t see us doesn’t mean we are not visible to them. We are visible through our vocal inflection. While they may not see the eye roll or smirk, the impatience or the boredom, it doesn’t mean they can’t hear it. They almost always can, so be careful. Be in touch with how you sound and be mindful of managing it.