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Communication

Change Your Tone

Change your tone, and you might change the effectiveness of your message. We all are aware, communication skills are vital to how effective we interact in our professional and personal lives. One part of communication we often do not examine is how we deliver our message or the tone we use when we are communicating with others. How we say things can directly impact others dramatically. Yet, our tone and other contributing factors may actually be more important than what we say. As my mother would always say, “It’s not what you say; its how you say it.”

The tone of voice we use is responsible for a large amount of the message we are trying to relay. Tone involves the volume you use, the level and type of emotion that you communicate and the emphasis that you place on the words that you choose. The same sentence can have multiple meanings depending on which word is emphasized. The emphasis on a particular word implies additional information than what the words say. See how this works; try saying the sentences below with emphasis each time on the word in bold print.

 I didn’t say he took my phone.

I didn’t say he took my phone.

I didn’t say he took my phone.

I didn’t say he took my phone.

I didn’t say he took my phone.

I didn’t say he took my phone.

I didn’t say he took my phone.

Note the meaning of the sentence was altered each time, even though the words are identical. The emphasis you place on the word draws the listener’s attention, suggesting that the word is important in some capacity. In this case, the emphasis indicates that the word is an error. So in the first example, “I didn’t say he took my phone,” the phrase includes the message that someone else said it. The implied information continues to change in each sentence, even though the words remain constant. Therefore, it is important to understand your tone and which words you’re emphasizing in a conversation so you do not confuse the person you’re having a conversation with.

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