Thursday, June 28, 2018

Tone Tips, Part 2: Knowing the Risks of a Bad Tone

Now that we have a definition of tone, let's look at the risks of writing in a bad bad tone by reading the list in the illustration from the bottom up.

1. Your message is ignored. At best, really, the offended party will simply avoid returning the message, regardless of its business purpose.

2. An email war begins. Worse, the recipient may fire back a nastygram, beginning a pointless, venomous war of words. 

3. The work is not done. Meanwhile, the warring factions are concerning themselves with the rise in their blood pressure and the cruelty of their retaliatory responses rather than focusing on their jobs.  

4. Your message is forwarded. These matters don't stay private for long. Sooner or later, the entire office knows about such petty, lingering linguistic skirmishes. 

5. Management intervenes. Now management has to divert attention from the business to chastise or counsel the quibblers. Such interventions can include meetings, follow-up documentation, and maybe official proceedings, all because two people could not  maintain their professionalism.

6. Your job evaluation suffers. The incident has just given the manager something new to write about on the offender's employee appraisal. The issue doesn't just disappear. It could even cost someone a raise or promotion.

7. You lose your job. It has happened. Often, people are fired when management perceives them to be naysayers, complainers, thin-skinned, or rabble-rousers—perceptions whose seeds were planted by the email with the problematic tone.  

8. Your reputation is damaged. It doesn't stop there. These diatribes grow into the stuff of legend, extending beyond the department, company, and even field, irrespective of the magnitude of the organizational culture.