Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tone (noun): a quality, feeling, or attitude expressed by the words that someone uses in speaking or writing.

Over the last few months I've noticed that people have responded negatively to emails I've sent.  I've heard people say things like, "Did you read Sylvia's email?  She was mad.  Don't mess with her." OR someone will respond, "You tell 'em, Sylvia!"  Well, I'm beginning to think that maybe it's the 'tone' of my emails that they are mistakenly taken as being mad, angry....bitchy.  Even when I have a conversation with a co-worker, it is often repeated, to someone else, like I was speaking in an angry tone,  "...and you could just see her wagging her finger as she was talking!"  I find that I'm misunderstood and need to find a way to correct this problem.

Case in point: I am a part-time worker and only work forty hours every two weeks.  I have an assigned cubicle.  Some of my co-workers are what we call "mobile workers," meaning they have no desk in the office, they work from home, and come to the office occasionally for interviews, meetings.  Although there are places set up for them, in various locations in the office, to plug in their laptops, they seem to like using my cubicle when I'm not there because it's well-stocked, quiet, and so forth.  Every time I come back, there is always something I have to correct or straighten out.  I've complained in the past, but...well, grown folks sometimes just don't care.  This last time I sent out a 'polite' email saying that, from that day on, if I find things left on my desk, they were going in the trash...staplers, three-hole punches, pictures of their kids, CDs, a realm of paper, ink cartridges (new)...everything, and anything, was gonna be tossed.  I didn't think it was a nasty email.  I thought it was very factual.  "You leave it. It's gone. Don't bother asking me what happened to it."  I get the feeling it was the 'tone' of the email that made them upset.  Not sure....

I have the same problems expressing my characters' thoughts when I'm writing.  I remember in my last book critique, one of my fellow Crazies pointed out that my characters were always shouting, shown by the large number of exclamation points I had after their dialogue. My characters are excitable people!  They shout! They yell!  Yet, I get the sense that I need to learn how to 'tone' down my characters' voices and teach them to express their feelings some other way.

Maybe have them hit each other with floppy bats as they talk.  That may lighten the tone.  Right?!!!



  1. Sylvia! Try this!

    Tape up a nice, large note in your cube.

    Have it say, in attractive font: "Warning: I fart in my chair. A lot."

  2. Heehee! I think they do that anyway, Lisa

  3. Maybe instead of throwing their stuff out, you can hold it for ransom.

    If you ever want to see your phone charger again, bring $500 and a 2lb bag of m&m's to the alley behind the Starbucks.