When we communicate with others, it’s obviously important that we create an environment that allows the message to be heard – the right message. Sounds pretty simple, but it’s easy to forget that every communication gets translated by the recipient, not only for literal content, but most importantly, for tone. Use the wrong tone in communicating, and the message gets lost.
It’s easier to communicate the right tone in face to face conversation since we have the benefit of direct observation, which allows us to recognize subtle hints in body language, facial expressions, and so on, than it is in written communication.
Written language can often be more complicated than verbal, and what we intend to say can easily be interpreted in ways that were unintended. If I think you’re calling me an idiot (and you may not be), I’m certainly not going to listen to what you have to say.
So, while you may be convinced that you are saying what you mean to say in an email, the recipient may be reading something entirely different – something that’s not intended.
It might surprise you to learn that studies show email messages are interpreted incorrectly 50% of the time. And, the culprit is almost always the tone of the message as interpreted by the recipient.
From a business perspective it’s obviously important that you not be misunderstood; that the email recipient clearly understands what you mean to say.
To ensure your emails are constructed in a way that miscommunication is reduced or eliminated, a check system of some sort would be an ideal solution. You could have an unbiased co-worker check your emails for tone, for example or, you could take advantage of a recently released free beta product, ToneCheck being offered by Lymbix. ToneCheck identifies and flags emotionally charged sentences within your email message.
The following graphic illustrates ToneCheck in action.
Tone Editor helps you adjust and preview the emotion in your message before sending.
Tone Alert flagging device notifies you upon pressing “send” when an e-mail falls outside your acceptable tone tolerance. Adjust or ignore? It’s up to you.
Tone Tolerance allows you to choose your acceptable tone tolerance, and customize your settings in the configuration panel for more or less sensitivity.
Ease of Access Add-in installs within your existing e-mail client without the need for additional software.
Works with: Microsoft Outlook 2003, Microsoft Outlook 2007, Microsoft Outlook 2010.
Note: According to ToneCheck, they are developing versions for Apple Mail, Gmail, and Thunderbird.
Sign up for an account and download at: ToneCheck
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