Who Do You Think You’re Talking To?

It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Right?  Well that’s partially true. What you say matters a LOT. But the tone by which you deliver the message is equally important. The same words can endear a client to you for life, or put them on the defensive.

Just yesterday I called my son’s pediatrician. 5 days before I dropped off summer camp forms for the doctor to complete. I was promised a 2-3 day turn around. Not having heard anything I called for a status update. A sympathetic voice on the phone told me “We have so many camp forms Johnathan’s is not yet complete.” I followed up in an equally very understanding voice “I imagine you are swamped, is it possible I can get the forms by Friday?”.  This conversation could have gone very differently. The exact same words “We have so many camp forms Johnathan’s is not yet complete” delivered in a frustrated, why are you bothering me tone, would have put me on the defensive. Instead of calmly providing the deadline I would likely have ranted about their promise to deliver in three days. At the end of the day I would likely have gotten the form on time no matter what. But the tone of voice in our conversation turned what could have been an annoyance into a customer service success. I not only got my form, but I’m appreciative they turned it around on time. Score one for Woburn Pediatrics!

The interaction with my son’s pediatrician was a classic  example of how a physical tone of your voice makes a difference in our interpretation of messages. While it is relatively easy to modulate your voice can you do the same in non-verbal mediums. In fact, the tactics outlined below will help you not only get across your message, but the tone by which you want to deliver it no matter what you are writing.

Punctuation! and CAPITALIZATION We’ve all be the recipient of the all caps email. You can’t help but wonder, why is this person yelling at me. But punctuation is equally important in other ways. What words do you want to EMPHASIZE? Are you trying to be funny 🙂 Yikes! Is astonishment your goal?

To whom it concerns How is the communication addressed? The use of formal titles – Mr. Mrs. Dr. Professor sets one tone. While the use of a first name implies quite another. Equally, how you sign off provides valuable clues to the reader.   Can you feel the difference in the example below? One tone is not better than the other. But they are appropriate for different purposes.

Sample A:

Dear Mr. Jones,

It has come to my attention that we do not have your contract on file. Attached is a copy for your signature. Your prompt attention to this matter is required.

Please return the signed agreement via fax to 888-555-1212.

Joan Abbott – Contract Processing Agent

 

Sample B:

Hi Matthew,

It has come to my attention that we do not have your contract on file. Attached is a copy for your signature. Your prompt attention to this matter is required.

Please return the signed agreement via fax to 888-555-1212.

Many thanks!

Joan Abbott – Contract Processing Agent

 

Imagery Review the example below. The exact same words with different images completely change the context of the communication.

People giving applause

 

 

 

 

 

Acme corporation reports $10 million in revenue for the period ending May 2014.

What if the same sentence is delivered with this picture instead? Do you feel differently about the information provided?

market crash

 

 

 

 

Acme corporation reports $10 million in revenue for the period ending May 2014.

 

May the right context always be with you!

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