Is it possible to damage your voice or vocal chords by speaking softly? One of my co-workers speaks very loudly, and says her doctor told her she would damage her voice if she tried to speak more softly. We’ve tried everything to work with her on this, but she still drowns out all the people around her and causes me to have headaches. How could this be handled sensitively?
First off, whispering all of the time or having too much air passing through the vocal cords can irritate the voice, but I’m not aware of any reason why speaking at a normal volume should damage any one’s vocal cords.
Perhaps you can train your own system not to be triggered by her voice. Through concentration and breathing you might be able to be at peace and balanced in her presence. That would be an amazing life skill for many circumstances and environments! However, this might not be for her highest good. She might really need to make this shift.
If there is some trauma or insecurity caused by her past, it might have caused her to be vocally constrained. Now that she has found her strength it might feel uncomfortable for her to give it up. She might find it difficult to understand the problem at work if she’s getting positive feedback for it elsewhere.
If we can support people, sometimes they can shift. Or sometimes life circumstances that pressure them to change are required. Lost employment, relationships and opportunities compel people to overcome limitations, but we always hope for gentler means. If you are wise and accepting, maybe you can come up with a way to inspire your colleague to have the idea of speaking more softly herself. When the choice is hers, she might be able to make the change without it triggering her past or her insecurities.