How Your Voice Affects Your Income

November 10, 2016

When it comes to a career in medicine, it is clear that examination results and clinical skills are integral at the entry point. However, once past the initial hurdles of a medical career, the impression that a physician gives to others begins to play a more substantial role in career advancement.

When it comes to a career in medicine, it is clear that examination results and clinical skills are integral at the entry point. However, once past the initial hurdles of a medical career, the impression that a physician gives to others begins to play a more substantial role in career advancement.

The factors that determine how much professional success a physician will have are often subjective. A person’s voice is one of the surprising personal characteristics that contributes to or detracts from professional success, as reports have found voice pitch and speaking style are directly correlated with income. These associations are noted among both men and women, so it is worthwhile for any professional to understand how voice affects others’ perception, ultimately impacting salary and success in the workplace.

Men with Deeper Voices Earn a Higher Income

Several studies point to a strong correlation between voice pitch and income among men. Men with a deeper voice pitch, on average, earn higher salaries and attain more prominent positions at work. One study even noted that male executives who spoke with measurably deeper voices were more likely to head larger companies. Similarly, among male executives, those with deeper voices had an almost $200,000 higher income.

It is unclear whether having a deeper voice pitch is the determinant of the higher salary among males, and it may be that males who attain a higher position could begin to speak with a deeper voice after reaching a certain prominence in the work setting. But, given that a person's voice is generally recognizable throughout his lifetime, it is more likely that the deep speaking voice of the high-powered male executives preceded the job position, and not the other way around.

Women's Voices and Professionalism

As with any issues related to women and professionalism, there are conflicting estimations of what makes a woman worthy of professional success. Of course, in medicine, written examinations are an equalizer between test takers. Yet, when it comes to voice, the standards by which women are perceived are a bit mixed. A woman's voice and speech pattern has a significant impact on how she is perceived.

A woman with a high voice is generally considered pleasant, agreeable, and easy to work with, but not authoritative. A deeper voice may be perceived as serious and even uncaring, but competent. In general, a woman's voice may have a negative impact on her perceived professionalism and competence if it is too soft, quiet, high, friendly, or expressive. If a woman speaks with a deeper and less expressive voice, she may be viewed negatively, or her voice may have no significant impact on the perception of her professionalism and competence.

Vocal Fry

A speech trend that has emerged among young people in recent years is a vocal pattern technically described as vocal fry. Vocal fry is characterized by extending the last word of a phrase while also making that last word a bit deeper in sound. The effect is a slightly prolonged vibrating sound at the end of a spoken phrase.

Interestingly, this trend appears to have been started by female entertainers, but has become prevalent among young males and young females. It turns out that men who speak with vocal fry are perceived negatively in a professional setting. Women who speak with vocal fry, on the other hand may be viewed as modern or fashionable, but less educated and less competent. Of course, since this is a fairly new way of speaking that happens to be more prevalent among young people, the negative perceptions may be more prevalent among older individuals. Nevertheless, it is important for physicians who are trying to succeed in the workplace to give an impression of professionalism that is respected by peers, patients and superiors of all generations.

Physician Communication Style

Physicians regularly work with people of varied backgrounds and diverse ages. So it is important for a physician to speak in a way that portrays a sense of competence and maturity in order to attain the best chances for success.