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  • John Werner

Tone and a Few More Neologisms


Sound Barrier: Sound Barriers are any thought word or action or even a physical block that prevents talk or thinking about the volume, tone, and speed of our words. Fear of bad consequences if you bring attention to someone’s unbalanced use of volume, tone, or speed is a Sound Barrier.

Sound Message: A word or phrase becomes a Sound Message when its volume, tone, and speed of delivery are known, expressed, written down or recorded. By this definition, all recorded words are Sound Messages. Any time the volume, tone, and speed of the words spoken are discussed, the words become Sound Messages. A printed song with lyrics and music is an example of a Sound Message.

Sound Messengers: Sound Messengers are those who intentionally practice Sound Messages. We ask questions about the volume, tone, and speed of the words we speak and hear. We break through Sound Barriers to form new relationships or changes to existing ones.

Tone: (Also tone-of-voice) the color of our speech. Tone is harder to describe than volume or speed, until you have a list of words to describe it; then it becomes as easy as describing volume and speed. Remember, when we name something, we tame it.

To describe or ask about tone, use adjectives like boldly, angry, joyously, sadly, lamenting, sarcastic, pining, happy, fearful, trembling, ecstatic, and emphatically. Make your own list and add to it as needed. When you wonder how someone is feeling, ask the source. Make a casual statement with your best guess of their tone. Something like “You sound very bold. Is this something you feel strongly about?” Even if you are not sure at first, guess and ask anyway. Eventually your accuracy will improve to the same level as the rest of us with your repeated efforts. Sometimes all we can do is guess, so give yourself an A for guessing and a D if you don’t ;-).

John Werner has degrees in Engineering, Music and Organization Development. He practices Sound Messages™ daily.

Have you asked someone to change the volume, tone, or speed of their words? What was the immediate result? Did you notice any change or improvement later? I learn from you, too; please share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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