Gauging Your Tone with Others

Studio 5 Relationship Coach Matt Townsend explains how tone of voice can affect the message you are sending.

Tone is not personal, it’s just communication…Tone is about them…not you…don’t take it personal.

Remember there’s three keys to communication

o The words we say

o Body language

o Tone

Tone tells the deeper story…

Have you ever talked to someone who yelled at you, “I’m not angry”? Tone shows that there is another story that is not being told…it gives us great insight.

Tone is our Friend not our Foe

Tone helps us make points we couldn’t make with fewer words

didn’t say that!

it wasn’t you, it was someone else.
didn’t say that!
really didn’t say what I’m accusing you of.
didn’t say that!
didn’t speak it but you did communicate it.
didn’t say that!
said something, just not “that!”

People believe tone more than words

“Can you come help me do the dishes?” “Sure, I’d love too!” (Sarcastically)
Don’t you always trust more how someone says something than what they said? Tones are harder to fake…how could you fake this. Say your chatty neighbor comes over, just to stay a minute in the middle of your favorite show, how do you approach her?

Taming Your Tone

Read the Signs of Distress

Notice in some of your least effective conversations three signs appear.

Volume gets louder

If we wanted have better conversations why are we getting louder? We assume you must not hear them if you don’t agree.

Voice Pitch gets higher

We get a higher pitch to great emphasis, thinking that you must not have heard me. It also shows the strain in the talk.

Conversation tempo goes faster.

We speed up to get more and more info and to get more and more pain out of us.

Soften Your Heart

Remember the old sage advice, “You cannot, not communicate.” You are always communicating, what you are thinking or feeling inside. So if you and your partner have negative tone issues, then at first don’t focus on the tone, go down deeper into its core, which is usually an issue of the heart. “Wherever your heart is, there will your tone go also.” Some keys to help you soften your heart are:

• Ask yourself what you are missing about the situation.

• What facts, history, understanding and assumptions am I making about this person?

• Remember that your tones are nothing more than audible manifestations of your thinking or interpretations.

• Chose the healthier or more positive interpretation of the person.

o Negative interpretations create negative tones…If you assume someone was out to hurt you or get you, you’re pain or sadness will create a more negative tone.

o Positive interpretations generate more positive or healthier tones…If you assume that same person just made a mistake and wasn’t thinking, then you can feel more neutral or healthy and will manifest a healthier tone.

Center Your Head

Many times our worst conversations take place without our heads even being in the game. The key to the step of centering your head is to make sure you’ve got your head in the game and conversation; to not just sit back and react to what is being said but specifically to choose to communicate with another based on your values and principles, not your mood, the circumstances or what they said to offend you. Some keys to do this are:

• Make sure you’re clear what you want out of the conversation.

• Focus on what matters most, being right or getting back at someone.

• Pause between what they say to you and your response. Try to slow down the process a bit.

• Take a deep breath, to help you flush out some of the negative energy.

Alter the mode to alter the mood

One of the quickest ways to better manage the tone of a conversation is to simply alter the mode of communication. You may notice that whenever you and your partner “talk” about an issue it gets out of hand but you can quickly make up with your partner in an apology letter. Remember that you can communicate in a variety of ways (talking face to face, texting, phone calls, letters, emails, Instant Messaging) so try mixing up your modes of communication and see if that makes a difference.

• Letters, emails, text messaging may work better for some more difficult conversations than the face to face.

• Sometimes telephones might work better than letters because you can pick up some verbal cues and lose some visual cues like rolling their eyes.

• Don’t assume that certain things must be told face to face. The real key to effectiveness is learning to know what works best with your partner and agree that this is how it should be delivered.

• Some conversations are best held in public places, like restaurants or court rooms to keep the tone in check.

Change What You Can!

One of the worst things that can happen in a conversation that has tone problems is to have your tone altered because of another. So here are some simple ideas of how to deal with another person’s bad tone.

• Open a discussion about your tone and ask to set some rules about how we talk about our difficult issues.

• Create a sign that you can show to each other to cue the partner that their tone is offensive.

• If you can’t involve your partner that directly, then become the change yourself by working on changing volume, pitch or tempo. You can create a healthy conversation by lowering any of these three.

o Volume gets louder

√ Make sure you keep your voice lower. Go lower not higher, even if they get higher.

o Voice Pitch gets higher

√ Intentionally talk monotone or deeper. Don’t ask a lot of questions or use inflections. Questions sometimes sound judgmental. “Why would you do that?”

√ Favor statements over questions.

o Conversation tempo goes faster

√ Talk slight pauses, slow down your response. Talk a bit slower. You’ll be amazed at how that can alter getting hijacked.

√ Talk like you text; in short sentences not more than two or three sentences at a time.

Learn, Learn, Learn

Sometimes people can’t hear you just because of your tone. Can you think of someone who is so difficult to listen to? What is it about their tone? Is it offensive, whiney, sarcastic, or edgy? Remember what makes it hard to listen to and avoid it in your communications with others.

Matt can be reached at the Townsend Relationship Center at http:/ or (801) 747-2121. You can also attend a date night with Matt:

Date Night with Matt Townsend

Friday, March 12

7:00 pm to 9:00 pm

$20 per couple

Location: Noah’s in South Jordan

To register call 801-747-2121

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