Self

The Annoying Thing People Do With Their Voice That Makes Them Immediately Unlikable

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Words matter, but sometimes how you say something is heard more loudly than what you said. Your tone of voice greatly impacts how your words are perceived.

As you probably already know from experience, kind and gentle tones are welcoming while snarky or sarcastic tones rarely go over well.

This holds true whether you're in a difficult parenting dynamic, dealing with a spouse or partner, explaining your point of view to friends, collaborating at work, or simply trying to better understand another person’s view in a casual conversation.

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"Tone," as defined by Dictionary.com is "pitch, volume." It can distinguish "attitude, spirit, air, approach, expression, inflection, intonation, timbre, quality and style."

It's crucial that you not only recognize your tone of voice but that you also know how to control it to appropriately convey your message.

Sarcasm as a Tone of Voice

Sarcasm is mainly used to say the opposite of what’s true and is often used to make the other person feel off-guard or foolish.

Sarcasm is all about the context and tone of voice, which is why it works better verbally. There tends to be a bite or bitterness in the words. You’ll know when you hear it. Be sure to use caution when using it, or you can come across as rude.

Witty is good, sarcastic is often not. You don’t want to come across as obnoxious, passive-aggressive, offensive, rude or angry.

Here's an exercise: Try to guess what people are saying through verbal and non-verbal communication. For instance, when a person says "Yup" and then "I got it" in a sharp tone, what is the person trying to tell you with their tone of voice?

How to Manage Your Tone ... and Why it Matters

How your words are perceived and how you communicate — verbally and non-verbally — with others represents the majority of all communications.

Communication is 7% verbal and 93% non-verbal which includes facial expressions, gestures, postures, and tone.

Tone of voice makes up 38% of all communication, making it one of the most important factors that influence how we convey our opinion, feelings, and thoughts.

It’s easy to be deceptive with your words, but it’s a lot harder to fake a tone of voice. In fact, tone of voice may be an essential element to the success of any relationship.

For instance, if you thank someone with a sarcastic tone, it may be perceived as insulting or angry.

4 Steps To Manage Your Tone Of Voice

1. Consider what and how you really want to say how you feel.

It's harder to fake tone than it is to choose your words.

Words can be crafted but tone is hard to fake. Make sure you're in the right headspace before you say something complimentary when inside you're feeling angry.

2. Listen to how you sound.

Truly try to hear how you sound to others. Telling someone you're "fine" when you're not will probably not come across as fine.

If you say it with an eye roll or a sarcastic tone, the tone will be heard above the words. How you sound matters just as much, if not more, than what you say.

3. Choose a positive tone of voice.

An occasional sarcastic tone may be OK from time to time, but if used too often, it will come across as rude.

In fact, when you use a polite tone of voice, it not only impacts others positively, but you as well.

4. Practice, practice!

In every conversation, in order to "hit the nail on the head," you must practice in advance.  

Pause, breathe, and set your intention to saying things in a positive tone. This is not natural for most people so practice at home, with friends, in the shower, etc.

RELATED: 5 Ways To Teach Kids To Identify Tone Of Voice At An Early Age

Sarcastic Tone in Written Correspondence

Don’t allow the veil of the internet to cloud your intent in emails, direct messages, blog post comments, or social media posts.

It's common to miss the mark when aiming for a public-appropriate or diplomatic tone. Off-the-cuff comments that include a sarcastic tone can alienate others, inspire retaliation and even ruin a reputation.

Written correspondence should aim toward making colleagues, bosses, and decision-makers to gravitate "to" you. Aim for composed, articulate, and diplomatic dialog at all times.

Here are 5 ways to avoid sarcasm in your online tone of voice.

1. Carefully balance emotions with pragmatism.

After thoughtfully writing out your response, ask yourself: Does the content add a new viewpoint and educate or does it elicit an emotion, attack, or accusation?

2. Offer facts.

Highlight concrete, objective information to meaningfully support your feelings on a matter.

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3. Explain your conclusions.

Steer away from attacks aimed at proving how clever you are. Instead, the "why’s" and "how’s" that made you arrive at your conclusion.

Encourage the reader to understand your point of view as much as possible.

4. Be concise yet detailed.

No one wants to read lines and lines of text, yet not providing enough content can leave the reader looking for answers and understanding.

5. Write from the heart then edit.

Lay out the essence of your emotions first, then slash out negative or harsh tones and inject insight and positive sentiment.

Aim for an end result that represents you as an engaging and respectable person, one that will educate and attract. Even those who oppose your opinion may still be drawn to you as an emotionally and intellectually-respected person.

Model positive behavior.

Do you ever find yourself next to someone who you may find boring or strange? We all have at some point. Our instinct may be to turn our shoulder, let our eyes wander, or even respond using a sarcastic tone.

Your kids and others are watching. Don’t just talk, walk the walk. Demonstrate the proper way to treat people. Sit with the mom who kind of irritates you and give her a chance. You might be surprised what you learn about — and from — her.

Your ability to communicate is a critical life skill.

You've been told that you need to stick up for yourself and ask for what you need. After all, communication is required in virtually every relationship, opportunity, and experience.

Sarcasm is everywhere and in everyday speech: in literature, on screens, in homes and coffee houses, and in backyards. It can tell you a lot about the personality of a character.

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Caroline Maguire, M.Ed., ACCG, PCC founded and facilitates a comprehensive SEL training methodology (#ConnectionMatters) for adults, parents, clinicians and academic professionals on how to develop critical social, emotional and behavioral skills, in themselves and in others. For more information, visit her website

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This article was originally published at carolinemaguireauthor.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.