Assuming Tone

While the internet makes communication easier and faster in most cases, it also tends to cause a great deal of confusion in the matter of tone of voice.  When you cannot hear a persons tone, you may misinterpret something completely innocent as being snide, combative, or sarcastic.  Emoji’s can help clarify this in a casual setting, but the use of emoji’s is not considered professional.  In addition, a language difference of any sort can cause increased confusion.  Many times my own writing is misinterpreted because I tend to write more formally, and like to experiment with words for variety.  I have had people who learned English as a second language think I was trying to be a smart ass because of this, when I was not intentionally using big words, it is just how I talk/write (it was my manager at a job when I was about 20 years old, she was Korean, barely spoke English).

One of my recent blogs came under scrutiny from a few people for assumed tone, when what I was doing was simply listing off data.  Rather than question me, they questioned the person who had posted a link to that entry, but they informed me and I was able to address it.  Still, for the sake of clarity, I try very hard NOT to use a tone in my blog posts.  I will often re-write something half a dozen times because I find myself becoming too worked up, and I have even shelved posts I could not find a way to word without my own emotion.  My own opinions, yes, but not an excess of emotionalism.   That is one of the reasons I typically write my blog entries weeks, even months in advance; it gives me a chance to ruminate on what I have written and see if I want to add anything or change the wording.

Fact is, you cannot assume tone.  If you think someone is writing something a certain way, especially if you do not know them well, it is better to take a step back and look at just the words, removing all assumption of tone. If you are still unsure, ask the person to clarify, and take care to do so without adding your own accusatory tone, which could only serve to turn a misunderstanding into a conflict.


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