Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Wife Voice

I have now been working 9 to 5 (or 8 to 8, 8 to 12, etc) for a decade. One aspect of life in the office that I have found funny is how many guys talk differently to their wifes.

Most everyone has their business voice. Quite straight to the point with occasional playfulness if there is a good relationship. Then many have their friend voice which much more relaxed and playful.

Now the wife voice runs generally runs between two levels. On one level, it is very similar to the friend voice, but maybe more relaxed and familiar. I'm pretty sure that's how I am. Even this is a departure from the normal business phone voice and can be recognized. The other level that I have seen is very lovey-dubey and bordering on pillow talk. The pet names like "my little dove" and "snookums" come out. It has thrown me the few times I've heard it. I don't have a problem with it, but I do find it a bit amusing.

Which brings me to a guy I used to sit next to. It was a very very cramped office. We were a rapidly growing office so people were shoehorned into closets. There were four of us in a office meant for one manager (about 10ft x 10ft). My office-mate was a bit of a know-it-all. Someone who would always correct you if you said something not encyclopedia-correct. The guy you would go to have a complex concept explained, but you would have to save an afternoon of time for the explanation with a triple expresso handy. And on three separate occasions he bored me to sleep about his favorite band, who he said were musically superior to every other band out there except maybe Pink Floyd. Something about simultaneous chord progressions.

Now, he would always talk to his wife in a monotone business voice. We sat so close there was no hiding conversations. So since he wasn't telling a client that they were doing everything wrong, I knew it must be his wife. Well quite often he would have 'discussions' with her that got semi-heated. One day they were having one of these discussions and I tried to ignore it by concentrating on my work. After a while he had stopped talking and I could hear her still going on the other end, then I heard a very gentle *click*. I couldn't believe it. He just gave up trying to prove his point and hung up on her. It was partly the act of the super sensitive hang up, but also who was doing it. I don't know how big of a dog house he was in when he got home, but they were still together when he was let go three years later.


Anonymous said...

Nice post. I am not sure that I have a business voice versus wife voice or friend voice. I just have a voice, which at some point, pisses everyone off, especially the wife, I would think.

Anonymous said...

My Kids tell me that I have a therapist voice that I use on some phone calls, and of course at the office. Then I have a Mom voice I use at home. Sometimes they actually want the therapist voice and other times they blow me off with "STOP ANALYZING ME!"

Harurmph. Teenagers. They want you to analyze them and they don't. It is sometimes hard to pick up on the cues not picked up by radar, when they want therapist Mom or just Mom Mom.

Unknown said...

Funny, when I described the post to my wife, she asked if I said I have the business voice. It's true that we probably all toggle between the three. I think if she catches me in the middle of something or talking to someone I may not switch modes. Trying to keep my focus. Well at least that's my excuse.