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SoundWave boosts your people skills by improving the way you talk

SoundWave coach Lim Kim Pong admits he is a real passionate guy with a strong advocating streak, to the point where he has a tendency to dominate the conversation and make the other person feel ignored.

Even his wife of 30 years felt this way. He realised this not long after he got acquainted with the SoundWave model.

“I asked her how have I been responding to you over the past 30 years of marriage,” remembers Lim. “She looked me in the eye and held my hand. And said I’ve been destroying the conversation or ignoring my views,” he adds.

“It hit me like a ton of bricks,” he says.

We use conversation everyday, yet we are oblivious to how these conversations have the opposite effect of what we intend them to be, as illustrated by Lim’s story of realisation.

That’s where the SoundWave method helps to clarify these intentions by recognising how we talk, and making adjustments to truly engage the other party in the conversation.

“We don’t lack the ability to talk. I think what we lack is the awareness in how we talk,” says Lim.

In SoundWave, everything is conversation

SoundWave was created by Kevin Eyre, an organisational development consultant from the United Kingdom.

The method views conversation and communication as something that directly impacts how others think, feel and behave.

SoundWave requires participants to take a Brilliance 3 Assessment, which is a questionnaire that ascertains what your three “strongest” SoundWave voices are.

(There are a total of nine “strongest” voices, classed under the three broad verbal styles, namely “Ask”, “Suggest” and “Tell”. But we will explain more about that later.)

Accredited coaches describe what the three strongest voices are, point out their strengths and weaknesses, and recommend ways to refine the use of these voices for more effective conversation. 

Lim, a SoundWave-accredited coach and the CEO of StrengthsAsia, a Gallup-certified organisation that specialises in corporate and leadership development, leads SoundWave workshops and other Gallup courses in Singapore and around the region.

The Gallup Organization, a world-renowned corporate development consultancy, names Kim Pong as one of the world’s first Gallup 20 Certified Strengths Coach, Speaker and Trainer.

He has facilitated and coached extensively in companies like GlaxoSmithKline, VISA Worldwide, Yahoo, Prudential, Manulife, Audi, among others.

He led a three-hour workshop called Leadership Audit: Building your influence with SoundWave by Kim Pong, held at The Great Room in May. 

Your three strongest voices

As mentioned earlier, there are a total of nine “strongest” voices that make up a person’s style of conversing. The Brilliance 3 assessment, available as a service to SoundWave clients, quantifies which three of the nine voices are your strongest.

These nine voices are categorised under Ask, Tell and Suggest. They are further broken down into the following:

– Tell voices include “Critique”, “Challenge” and “Correct”.

– Ask voices include “Inquire”, “Probe” and “Diagnose”

– Suggest voices include “Articulate”, “Advise” and “Advocate”

Your Brilliance 3 voices reflect how you communicate with other parties, be they your colleagues or your managers, or your loved ones.

For instance, someone who has “Probe” as one of their three strongest voices has the ability to seek understanding and meaning beyond the obvious.

In Lim’s case, one of his three strongest voices is the Advocate, which makes sense seeing that he is passionate about coaching people.

But each voice comes with its own pitfalls. An advocate like Lim risks taking over the conversation, which could make people feel left out..

How not to destroy the conversation

By recognising your strengths in the way you talk, you will also understand how they impact others.

Lim says “there are three responses in which the conversation is lost – when the conversation is destroyed, or when people feel ignored or patronised”.

In order to truly engage people, one needs to keep their Brilliance 3 voices in check.

For instance, somebody who is a natural probe, may come across as interrogative if he probes a little too deep.

Or if somebody who has a strong “advise” voice may come off as patronising or condescending when volunteering unsolicited advice. You may end up annoying your peers if this voice is not reined in.

How to fine tune the Brilliance 3 voices

Fortunately, there are tools to ensure that nobody feels excluded from the conversation. By practising them, you can be mindful that your strongest voices don’t get the better of you.

Here are two of these tools:


In SoundWave terms, bridging “slows down or refocuses the process”. It basically means bringing the conversation back to the topic at hand, to make sure the other party feels understood.

For instance, instead of offering unwanted advice, you could say something like: “I understand the importance of your point. Can I give you some advice?”

If your employee has presented some solutions to a problem but you are gunning for more, an example of a response could be: “I see there are two options here. I would like to challenge this conclusion.”


Like road signs telling you that your destination is near, soundposting prepares the listener for questions or feedback. This tool is particularly useful for probing, critiquing, correcting and challenging.

“For example, probing can be a very intrusive voice if you’re not careful,” says Lim. Instead of springing a personal question on the person, you could say ‘Can I ask you a question?; or ‘I would like to probe a little further,’” he explains.

But Lim warns not to preamble the conversation for too long. It gets peoples’ defences up, which could lead to an uncomfortable interaction. This is especially true for those who want to correct or critique their conversation partner.

Making your conversation partner feel included

While we are expected to communicate well at work, oftentimes, conversations turn sour, or teammates are disengaged.

SoundWave aims to empower your conversation partner, instead of bypassing them or making them feel powerless.

“Think of the leaders you love working with. It’s not that they agree with you on everything, but somehow you feel significant and safe, and therefore, you have great conversations with them,” says Lim.

Want to learn how to engage and empower your team? Join us at Greater for access to leadership workshops and events. Contact us by emailing today.


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