Is your Tone Perceived as Rude by others?

Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.- Paul J. Meyer

Some people are naturally seen as more diplomatic or polite. But others might get scolded for being rude, even when they weren’t trying to insult anyone! Some people might just seem or sound rude because of their tone. What can be done about it?

The first thing you can do is record yourself speaking. Play back the recording. Can you notice how you sound? Is there something that stands out? Maybe you speak in a clipped manner or tend to be very concise, to the point, while not caring much about smoothing things over. Consider how you sound and compare it with the way others speak.

The second option is to ask for feedback. Talk to people you trust and open yourself to their feedback. Do they perceive your tone to be rude? Others sometimes notice things we don’t and can help us navigate something as tricky as social interaction. While it’s not always fun to listen to how others critique us, it’s also a source of valuable insights we will not be able to receive in other ways. It’s best to ask for support from people we trust and that we can expect to have our best interests in mind.

A third step is to try doing something different. It can be sometimes easy enough to modify the way we speak. Try to offer more questions and fewer statements. Add phrases that soften your tone, like “I feel that…” or “what do you think?”

The next step is to focus on a communication habit that you don’t like and want to change or the one you believe is causing you the most trouble. It could be that you speak too loudly or in short sentences, for instance. Focus on that habit for a week and try to, first, become aware whenever you are doing this. You can put an elastic band on your wrist and change it any time you catch yourself doing the thing. Then, try to shift it.

You can use any strategy that helps you change your habit. Believe that it is possible. Believe that you can change without compromising who you are.

Some communication habits can be ingrained but if you give yourself the time and effort, they will shift. This is sure to help you communicate better and find yourself with improved relationships with those around you.