Strong and gentle

I was nervous.

The kind of nervous that makes my voice go up a few notches and my breath come in shallow, sharp bursts. 

I was being interviewed for a job as a producer for an award-winning TV show. I’d given up news reporting to move to Sydney for love and now I wanted to get into producing.  The popular variety program would be a good start. 

Plus, the host was Ray Martin – an excellent journalist and presenter who was also known as a good person. I really wanted to work with him.

After a few questions I started to relax, and then Ray leaned forward. 

‘Sherene, you’ve been highly recommended for this job and you come across well.  But one thing worries me – you’ve very softly spoken and I’m not sure you could be tough enough for the show. Our producers have to be tenacious and forceful – we don’t like to lose out on a story or an interview.’

I didn’t know what to say. I was thrown by the idea that my quiet demeanour could be seen as a weakness. I’d only been a reporter for a few years, but I’d done my share of hustling and jostling for a story. I’d had to learn to be dogged and now I knew I could do it. But how could I convince Ray? I did my best but maybe that first impression held fast because I didn’t get the job. 

I did get to work with Ray eventually, as a producer on A Current Affair. I was more experienced, after years with the Nine network’s flagship Sydney news as well as the Today Show. But my voice was still understated. It was still gentle. 

By now though, I had the confidence to know that it wasn’t just the loud and forceful voices that won the day in journalism. Or in life. What I’d worked out, and what I still know to be true, is that a quiet voice can carry as much clout as one that’s loud and forceful. 

Strong and gentle is possible.

St. Francis De Sales said, “Nothing is so strong as gentleness, and nothing is so gentle as true strength.

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