life skill 7

Illustration: Jen Troyer

7 of 8

A kindergarten teacher I once knew used to look out across the crowded, paint-flecked insanity of her classroom, ring a tiny silver bell and whisper, "Come, children." Instantly, all 22 raging 5- and 6-year-olds ran up to the carpet, sat down and went completely silent. When you think about it, it makes sense. Why wouldn’t these kids behave this way? They’ve had plenty of people in their lives yelling at them to brush their teeth or to stop hitting their brother. Whispering was different—and, thus, interesting.

The same holds true for grown-ups. We live in the age of the screaming TV, the beeping smartphone, the blaring car alarm. Lowering your volume gives others the rare and delightful pleasure of leaning in to hear what’s being said, of being invited (not ordered!) to pay attention. You want others to want to hear you.