When talking to someone you have two ways to make an impact: first, with the words you say and second, but maybe the most important, the tone that you use.
Words are powerful, that is true. The words you say to someone can stay etched in their memory for years. It can be the thing that motivates them or what kills their spirit. When choosing our words we need to be wise.
However, I believe there is an argument that the greater impact of a conversation comes not from the actual words but from how they are delivered. Think about a text message you have received that you had to read multiple times because you were not sure in what way they meant the words. The tone of your voice carries power and impacts how a message is received from another person. If only we put as much thought into our tone as we do into the words that we say.
Tone of voice affects the other person’s reaction to your words. If you want to communicate that you are frustrated then use words that might be sharp. If you are trying to show your fear or anxiety your voice might be softer and even shaky. If you are working to be funny or lighthearted then smile when you talk and it will change your tone as well.
There is no subject in school that teaches tone of voice as a course of study. So children and adults that struggle in this way need to have intentional conversations about this topic and learn how to adjust for what they are trying to communicate. It might feel awkward at first, but learning to adjust your tone so your message is perceived in the way you intend will work to solve all sorts of communication issues.
In the coming week take a risk and ask someone you trust if your tone matches your message. When you deliver something sharp or impactful, double check how it was received. You will then educate yourself and improve your communication.