Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Speak Softly?


Reading Time: 1 minutes

Here’s a quickie

Today at a meeting with folks in my uni who are in admin positions but old friends…  I was saying something enthusiastically and my boss was supporting me enthusiastically and the highest admin position person in the room was shaking his head. This 4th person told me and my boss to wait. He would convince him. So we shut up and watched. As he repeated exactly what we had been saying. But in a softer voice and more serious tone.

My jaw dropped. And I said, “but..but…you just repeated what I said!” and he said, “yes, but look, he’s writing it down”. Uhhhh. The theory is that we just needed to say it in a calmer voice.

I am not convinced. Although I totally get how saying something in a serious tone and softer voice (vs boisterous enthusiasm) can get you places in academia… Knowing that will probably never be me… I don’t know 🙂 I tried it a bit for the rest of the meeting. I think people take you more seriously when you’re not passionate but I think it’s ridiculous. Any research on that? I have been told to smile less and I’m like…dude!


  1. I wonder if it is a sense that passion/emotion is not as analytical. So, if you take the emotion out, then you are seen as presenting a case a this more theoretical? It is based upon something that is more ‘real’ rather than ’emotion’? Just a thought. I know when you want to write to get something done, the first thing you do is redraft the letter without all the emotional language – just stating the facts – and then it is taken more seriously, as it isn’t seen as emotions getting in the way or logic or reasoning. It is annoying when passion for something is confused as unsupported emotional reactions.

  2. Absolutely get this one! We are often commended for our enthusiasm and energy – and for that I know to read – lack of academic rigour – but heart in the right place! 🙁

  3. Sounds like that same old thing – when a MAN repeats what a woman says, they get taken seriously.

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