As our world (business and otherwise) seems to get more hectic every day, I am finding that tone is playing a bigger part in how others receive our messages. Back when the world was on its axis, body language and energy played a large part in how we were perceived. The energy we brought to a call or how we showed up when we walked into a meeting, it informed others about us. Now, however, in this stressed, virtual world tone has taken the lead in informing how we communicate.
We’ve all at some point said ‘It’s not what you say but how you say it’. In today’s world that is truer than ever.
We find ourselves jumping from one Zoom meeting to another. In between, we get sidetracked by the dog barking at the mailman or the 4th grader needing help with math. Then suddenly, lights, camera, action – the next meeting begins. We jump between newsfeeds and emails. There is little to no time to slow down and shift our mindset for the next activity, so we bring our mindset with us. And with that mindset, our tone follows.
I work in this space and even I have to be intentional on a daily basis. Last week when I was under the weather, I created a challenge for myself. Still fuzzy-headed I tried to get through and answer over 300 emails. I responded to someone who knows me well, with a quick request. However, my tone got in the way. When he received it he responded that he was ‘taken aback’ by the tone. While my message was simply intended to him make something easier for him, my uncharacteristically short and direct tone was misunderstood. However, as I tell my clients ‘It is not your job to understand me. It is my job to be understood.’
At the end of the day, our thoughts, mood, and mindset are what determine our tone. So, if we don’t slow down, shift gears, focus and take the time to be intentional before the start of a call, meeting, or email, anything that had us frustrated, exhausted, or stressed may undermine us and create challenges none of us need to add to our plates. Let’s not do that.