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February 7, 2022

Importance of Tone in Writing

"Don't you dare use that tone with me again", we often hear this from our parents, or our teachers saying "that tone won't work here in my classroom" right? Well that's because tone does play an important role in spoken as well as written communication.

Tone helps us understand a person's mood, for instance- if he/she is happy, angry, sad, excited etc. The tone with which we speak to our boss or supervisors in office related to work would be entirely different from the way we speak with our friends when hanging around with them or partying.

Now having said that, we all are familiar with how tone works verbally, but have we ever wondered what tone has to do with writing? Well, usage of appropriate tone in written communication is entirely a different topic and very important as well.

Few examples of how the usage of "tone" differs with different situations are-

  • While offering a job – Polite, rude, assertive, unhappy
  • While rejecting a candidate – Polite, rude
  • While awarding a promotion – Excited, unwilling
  • While declining job offer – Rude, polite, disinterested
  • While apologising to a customer – Empathetic, sympathetic, rude, polite

* When we use the word "tone", our brain automatically replaces it with the word "voice", which is to some extent relatable, but not always. A voice is a sound that is independent of any situation, whereas the usage of appropriate "tone" depends on the situation.

* Let's consider talking about tone when it comes to writing, now some of us could be confusing it with feelings or the kind of vocabulary that is used when we write.

However, "Tone", is basically the choice of words that we put to use while constructing a sentence. It is a way of conveying our attitude or emotion in a particular situation.

* Try to make list of them. I know, it’s a tough task, but whenever you come across with any new idioms or phrases, jut note it down its meaning and context. You can use your smartphones to make a list of idioms/phrases. It’ll definitely help you during revision before your exams.

Let's understand it with an example. In a corporate setup, we have three kinds of people with whom we constantly interact.

First, friends, who also are our colleagues. Second, colleagues and our co-workers, Third, our supervisors or boss.

Now see how we use same question with different tones is presented below:-

  • Situation 1: Friends- "Hey wassup buddy, had fun on the weekend?
  • Situation 2: Co-workers-"Hi, how did your weekend go?
  • Situation 3: Boss/ Supervisors- "Hello Sir/ Ma'am, how did your weekend go?

As you see in these three sentences, the question was to know how the other person's weekend go, but the "tone" and the “choice of words” are the elements that is making the difference here.

Now let's list down the things that one needs to keep in mind while writing in a certain tone-

  • Who am I writing it to?
  • Why are we writing the document?
  • What do we want to imply or want the reader to learn, understand or think about?
  • Repercussion or impact on the reader

When we have all these questions answered, we decide the way we want to construct our sentences as to engage with the audience, reader or whosoever it may concern while writing an essay, an official e-mail or even a book for that matter. A right tone of our text will convey what we actually want to, otherwise the concerned person may not be able to absorb it well.

Henceforth, “Tone” is the reflection of interpretations and responses. It reflects more of our reaction to an instance. An appropriate approach always helps choose the tone correctly and leads to a good experience of interactions.

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