Science Says It’s Okay for Me to Hate My Voice. Do You?

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I hate my voice. I know you do too. And science says we’re normal.

  • A recent survey highlights the discomfort people feel when hearing their recorded voices, affecting their mental well-being.
  • What you hear in a recording is what you actually sound like.
  • Surgical modifications are an option but come with significant risks.

Back in my customer service days, I used to modify my voice because I felt sorry for the poor customer listening to it over the phone. Do you also hate your voice on a recording? Well, science says it’s normal.

In a recent survey of 1,500 people, almost 50% said hearing their recorded voice was so harmful to their mental well-being that they would change it if they could. When researchers at Mass Eye and Ear, a Harvard teaching hospital, asked people to listen to their own voices on a recording, 58% of the survey subjects said they didn’t like listening to themselves; 39% found the sound of their voices troubling in normal — non-recorded — conversation, as well.

According to Dr. Tricia Ashby-Scabis, senior director of audiology practices at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in Rockville, it’s all about how you hear yourself. She told The Washington Post that when “you hear yourself through both air conduction and through bone conduction. As a result, you hear a deeper, fuller, pleasing sound in your voice. When you hear a recording of your voice, however, you’re only hearing ourselves through air conduction, so you lose that internal deep sound quality.”

Basically, as you talk, you hear yourself through two channels: your actual ear (ear canal, eardrum, and external part of the ear) and the bones inside your ear. Your ear amplifies your voice while the bone transmits your voice’s vibration to the inner ear, and from one ear to the other. When air alone carries your voice, your voice may assume a higher frequency — an accurate one, as far as others are concerned.

So, you mean to tell me that what I hear over a voice message is how I actually sound? I hereby apologize to everyone I’ve ever spoken with throughout my life.

Some people actually consider surgically modifying their voice. Apparently, you get options for these interventions, including vocal cord injections using collagen, gel fillers, or Botox. But it’s not all without risk. The risk list includes bleeding, infection, hoarseness, breathing issues, chipped teeth during the procedure, and undesirable results.

There are non-invasive measures you can take, however, like increasing airflow through simple techniques — such as blowing through your lips or gargling. A vocal coach can guide you through these airflow exercises, which work best when practiced consistently.

While changing your voice is possible, it’s crucial to approach it cautiously and consider less invasive options.

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