Tone and Communication
The style or manner in which words are said make up a person’s tone of voice. Tone involves the delivery of words by expressing emotions and opinions. Tone determines perception also, such as whether an individual appears weak, confident, boring, etc.
Research reveals the significant impact of tone of voice by showing that 90% of our communication comes through nonverbal cues, including tone of voice. That means that the actual words said have only a 10% impact on our communication.
Not only is tone a powerful element in communication, it also presents an effective gauge of a person’s inner atmosphere. When we’re tired, frustrated, overwhelmed, or have some other powerful emotion flowing through us, our tone often reveals that inner state. In fact, concealing that emotion usually is impossible for most people. The better someone knows you, the harder hiding emotion in our tone becomes.
A change in tone often results in a change in attitude of all parties involved. In fact, let’s go so far as to say that the words said mean little to nothing when the tone says something else or something more powerful.
Tone and Relationship
With the significant impact of tone of voice in the forefront of our thoughts, consider the following truths about how we say what we say and how their application can change our relationships as well as the atmosphere of the inner self.
- Gentle words can disarm anger, resentment, and vengeance. (Proverbs 15:1)
- Gentle words have healing powers. (Proverbs 15:4)
- A mind set on things above comes through in our attitude, which is reflected in our tone of voice. (Colossians 3:1-10)
- Tone that reflects truth promotes healthy communication, but tone driven by emotions leads to communication breakdown.
- Tone often says more about the speaker than it does about the situation or the receiver.
Sarcasm comes naturally for me, but it lessens as I refuse to give it a regular voice in the world. The journey to this particular victory lives as a constant reminder of the power of tone of voice. Because sarcasm fails to encourage and went against God’s intention for my relationships, I am motivated to keep a tight rein on not just the words I say but how I say them as well.
Tone and the Heart
Painful lessons regarding my tone of voice led me to realize that how I say something certainly impacts others, but at the root it really reveals what’s going on in my heart. So when I use a wrong tone, I first correct it if possible and then apologize for it when necessary. I also seek to pinpoint what’s going on within myself that led to a tone that was not only less than encouraging but that was actually only my emotions out of control.
When I change my tone, my inner attitude changes, and my emotions level out. I can also see the same happening with whomever I am communicating with at the time. In that, I witness the truth that words truly can heal or destroy (Proverbs 12:18) largely through the tone in which they are said.