The right tone

I’m not sure how many of us are consciously aware of our responses when we talk or communicate with other people, but perhaps this is something we could all improve on. How we respond, or speak to other people is the most important thing we will ever do.

There are some of us who constantly get it wrong. When we come to engage in emotionally defensive behaviour that is destructive, other people may feel threatened and that’s never appropriate. Bad tones are usually designed to ward that person off from having to admit responsibility for something he’s done that he doesn’t want others to know about.

Either way it’s not something we will easily get away with. Whatever we put out there, we get back. People who act defensively are essentially trying to protect themselves from feeling a certain uncomfortable way, or seeing them as a failure, or seeing themselves in a negative light.

That said, first impressions count. Tones account for everything and can either be the making or breaking of us. Although we’re not always initially responsible for our lack of gracefulness, particularly in childhood, as the adult it’s inevitably down to us.

The right tones go a long way in every day conversations and can make for a happy experience or a nightmare conversation others can’t wait to get away from. If we get the tone wrong, people are more inclined to want to walk away, long before the conversation even gets off the ground.

Generally, people seem to be more offended by our tones than by our language, but both are important. Although the language we use may be offensive, the tone we use is worse because that is abuse.


22 Feb, 2016

10 thoughts on “The right tone

  1. Oh wow!! I want to save this blog and show it to my husband and daughter!! They seem to misunderstand when I mention their tone when speaking to others.

    My husband has been accused of being rude or a jerk and he really doesn’t see it as others do. Our daughter has picked up on it and I’m constantly explaining what her tone means and how it speaks a whole new language when it’s friendly or monotone.

    1. Awww thanks Bonnie!! Hopefully your explanation to your daughter will eventually sink in. As we mature and we begin to see life differently, we do change these things, as long as the foundations are in place.

      I can’t say as a child I got my tone right, but in my own defence my issues were never dealt with and although that is not always an excuse, it was a cry for help.

      Where there is understanding, tones will change, as will our lives.

    1. Hi Karlie and welcome to the site. Thank you, yes I agree. There can be misinterpretation on the part of the donor and the recipient and that’s why it’s important to take care with the manner in which we relate to one another.

      I have found there are some people who tend to come across in a less than conciliatory manner and although they often know they’re doing it, somehow they can’t always stop themselves.

  2. I agree wholeheartedly!! Misinterpretations happen often, when we’re communicating.

    It’s not an excuse, but that’s a big reason why my communication with others needs to be worked on and only I can do that, so I’m working on it.

    1. Perhaps all parties need to work on that. As they say it takes too. I believe both sides have to be amicable with their tone.

      Not always an easy balance to achieve, which is why we fail.

  3. Yes, using the right tone can make a world of difference! I have to deal with someone who doesn’t really get how harsh and criticizing her tone is. It automatically triggers every fiber of my being, because I heard that throughout my child and it still makes me cringe!

    I hate being treated like I’m mentally retarded, when I know I’m not! I know that term isn’t exactly PC, but it was the term I heard growing up so I tend to use it. My friend keeps asking me why I put up with this kind of treatment when in reality, it’s all I have ever known!

    People quite often have no clue that the tone they’re using causes others to become defensive and irritated. Chances are when you talk to someone in a pleasant tone, they’re more apt to respond kindly and not tell you where to stick it. The worst one for me is when I hear a parent yelling at their child and seeing how much it is just crushing them!

    They like to say that words will never hurt me, but I think they do so much more damage and those tapes don’t stop playing in your head! I would have rather been physically abused since those wounds heal, whereas emotional scars never do!

    My biggest problem usually is that I have such a hard time speaking up and not always knowing what tone to use. I grew up in a world where people used tones that are considered rather rude and vulgar today, so I’m not always aware of the ones I am using.

    I was also forced to be very nice to people that I really didn’t like, which I hated with a passion. Over time I lost the ability to really comprehend how I was coming across since I stopped dealing with people altogether. It’s amazing I can even communicate now considering we were almost raised like feral children!

    Most of the work I have done around this, I’ve had to do on my own.

    1. Thanks Randy. Yes there are certain tones that also make me cringe, but I tend to say something now. In the beginning, like you I found it hard.

      I think when we come from that kind of background, where tones are less than conciliatory, it’s easy to fall back into those bad patterns, particularly when those around us are still using them.

      When we begin to heal we’re less likely to put up with bad tones, for want of a better word. I know how difficult it is to want to say something and not know how to say what we really need to say.

      That said, unless we say something nothing changes and if those changes aren’t made, we can’t heal and move on. I also have the same feelings as you, when I hear parents’ yelling at their children.

      It makes me sad and upset for those children. I’m pleased you’ve done some work on your own Randy. I believe it’s important and is how we spiritually grow.

  4. Most times it’s not what was said but the tone of voice it was said that causes hurt.

    I think a lot of a relationship’s arguments are caused because of this issue. It can be difficult to watch the tone of voice, when we are annoyed.

    1. Thanks Maria. Yes you’re right, but I can’t help but think in addition to being annoyed, we’re also carrying subliminal messages from our past that make our tone change even more.

      I believe that is part of the problem we have and is probably the reason why some of us will hold on to grudges a lot longer than we should.

      I’ve know someone for many years who buys into this particular issue. It doesn’t matter what you say, his tone is less than conciliatory. He’s being doing it for that long, I’m not even sure he knows he’s doing it.

      I think tone is so important. Get it wrong and it serves to undermine, belittle and hurt us. I couldn’t agree more.

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