Watch Your Tone!

Major Scaled #2 : REM – “Recovering My Religion” from major scaled on Vimeo.

This video shows exactly how easily it is for your message to be misconstrued by tone. The simple act of changing “Losing My Religion” from a minor key to a major key has a profound affect on how we receive the message.

How many times have you been scolded, not for what you’ve said but how you’ve said it? The same three words can have drastically different meanings when you change the tone of their delivery or the inflection on any one syllable.  Consider the different meanings applied to the same statement with the emphasis changed in each:


I am not going


I am not going


I am not going

But tone is not just spoken, it’s also written and it’s important to understand your customer’s mindset at different points of their experience to ensure your tone is appropriate and not misconstrued. There’s a time for marketing to your customer and a time for helping them solve a problem.


Concise, actionable, sympathetic but not patronizing


Inspiring, encouraging, promoting discovery

Being overwrought with marketing speak when your customer is just trying to get the device they bought from you to work is likely to cause more stress and ill-will. Failing to inspire your customers with how your products can meet their needs and enhance their lives and possibly even create world peace…will result in missed sales.

It’s all about empathy for your customer and knowing the power of tone—it can change everything.

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One Response to Watch Your Tone!

  1. Dustin A. Nash February 10, 2013 at 7:17 pm #

    How ironic that you choose this song (or perhaps I ought to say irony well done?). Since it is ‘form criticism’ which has done the most damage to (Biblical) religion in that the conclusion almost always seems to be something like ‘they couldn’t have meant all that we have heaped onto it.’ I have written elsewhere that it is precisely the original intent of the progenitor to establish a multiplicity of meaning precisely in that which is, without question, ambiguous by artistic intent. R.E.M. need not be all that smart to realize that different listeners could hear the song and come to rather different conclusions. The song ‘holds’ this multiplicity and that was the intent (I suggest). Similarly the Gospels were not only four-fold in their variance of meaning but EACH had many levels of meaning AND YES those authors (being certainly not more foolish than Michael Stipe)did understand that they had a potentially broad and deep audience.// Advertising? The message is subservient to the ‘action.’ If they BUY then the message does not matter a hoot in so-called real meaning. If they buy it is a success. Similarly I believe we can say that the Gospels ‘truth’ is secondary to the question of whether they ‘convince.’// Last, I do like your quest towards ‘enhancing’ others, world peace (not the Lakers player) and I think it worth noting that both the gospels and R.E.M. both seem to have their ‘hearts in the right place’ and that is exactly why they chose the tone, key, tenor, timing, and variance of meaning in the first place.

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