Two in Five Admit Speaking Differently when Talking to Tradespeople

•38 percent said they speak differently when talking to tradespeople •Over half of men have done a ‘tradesman voice’ at least once •People in the north of England are most likely to admit to it •Tradespeople often notice it and may find it patronising, according to language expert


Greater Manchester, UK -- (SBWIRE) -- 06/04/2015 -- Most of us have a 'telephone voice,' but new research has revealed that as many as two in five of us put on a 'tradesmen voice' when speaking to people we've hired to do work and what's more, it hasn't gone unnoticed by the people we're trying to impress.

The study, conducted by London removals firm Kiwi Movers, found that 38 percent of Britons have at some point altered the way they speak when talking to a tradesperson.

Of those who admitted to altering how they speak, the vast majority (62 percent) said they did it to "connect" with the person to whom they were talking. 19 percent said they did it to appear more knowledgeable about the job at hand, even going as far as learning technical terms in advance, ten percent said they didn't know why they did it and seven percent said they were self conscious about being perceived as posh. A minority (2 percent) put it down to a habit of copying the people around them.

The phenomenon of altering the voice, known as bidialectism, occurs when people try to fit in with the people around them. In the case of 'tradesmen voice,' this most commonly affects men, with 57% of men admitting having done it, compared to just 19% of women.

Who is most likely to put on a tradesman voice?

By location

North West - 48 percent admit doing it
West Midlands - 45 percent admit doing it
East Midlands - 44 percent admit doing it
South East - 42 percent admit doing it
North East - 40 percent admit doing it

By profession*

Finance - 47 percent
Creative industries - 43 percent
Education - 42 percent
Health and social work - 40 percent
Business services - 41 percent

"Fancy a brew mate?" - How we change our speech

When asked to identify the main way in which they alter their speech, almost half put it down to vocabulary.

49 percent said they altered their vocabulary - for example offering a "brew" instead of a "cup of tea" - when talking to a tradesperson. One in five (21 percent) said they pronounced words differently, 11 percent admitted to overplaying their natural dialect, 9 percent used more slang words, while six percent used swear words than they normally used. Four percent admitted they didn't know exactly how they did it.

Linguistics expert Enna Bartlett from marketing firm Venn Digital explains why we are so keen to modify our speech.

"The way in which you talk is known as 'register'. People tend to vary their register based on the purpose of what they're doing or the social setting they are in. This is called 'accommodation.' You can over-accommodate though. If you change how you speak too much then the person you're speaking to will notice that that's probably not your normal way of speaking. Quite often over-accommodation can come across as patronising."

Regan McMillan, director of Kiwi Movers who conducted the research believes most tradespeople notice when a customer is changing their speech. "When someone isn't using their natural voice, it's actually quite easy to spot, even if you've never spoken to them before. Our movers have noticed it happening and don't take offence, but it really isn't necessary for people to change how they speak just because they've got tradespeople visiting."

Source -