It happens faster than you can wrap your head around replies, much less pause for peaceful solutions. Tonic or toxin? Poor tone shoots poison at others, and often wings back in the same form it was sent. Have you seen it escalate lately?
Like 8 ounces of Vodka mixed into 2 ounces of orange juice, toxic communication zaps your amygdala before you can blurt out a decent defense. How so?
He tells you he’s a listener – even advertises it as his tag line on a blog – and then interrupts you constantly on a busy day. You retaliate by ignoring him when he asks a reasonable request.
She insists she’s happy to buy lunch, only to report later to friends that you’re as cheap as a counterfeit two dollar bill. You retaliate by dropping her her off the list for your holiday extravaganza.
Even the most even-keeled communicator will admit that there are more than a few days when they wonder whether it might be a lot less stressful to hang up their cleats in favor of more passive roles.
Some 2 million American workers are victims of workplace violence yearly. Like the Vodka hidden in a whisk of orange juice, cruelty often starts with poison tone, and escalates pollutants such as racism – sip by sip. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Like most relationships, not every interaction is filled with peaches and cream. There are many days when you wonder whether your words or actions can accomplish anything, and others when you will sense that you just took a bullfrog leap in the wrong direction.
Consider These Less Than Tonic Times:
- A top performer where you work supports one way only and marginalizes intelligent peers who differ.
- You call a meeting to identify tone skills at work and the aggressive team stays away to avoid the topic.
- In spite of knowing how to target agreement in disagreeable settings, you lose it it and blast a novice for a minor mistake.
- You avoid emails from a partner who worked hard to negotiate a financial risk because you fear more financial failure.
- A workplace cynic took a swipe at your top project idea just when the firm was about to buy in.
- Your annual feedback showed more than a handful of work situations where tough times found you sniping back at peers.
- Your best efforts to improve a situation peacefully are shouted down by a colleague who claims to disagree with respect, and calls for tougher measures.
- Your hottest competitor announced unprecedented growth through inventions that require cooperation across differences, a trait lacking where you work.
A Few Suggestions for Surviving Tough Tone Days:
- Start a social network to offer opportunities for networking with good tone, and offer sessions to discuss benefits of online tone.
- Watch for tone problems around holidays, from people who struggle with intimate or healthy relationships. Set up a contest and offer a reward for the team with top tone skills.
- Reinvent even a small part of the workplace that is no longer profitable, by suggesting a practice that offers benefits from tone growth.
- Praise a leader who models the courage to use tone that others admire.
- Brainstorm ways to tame an amygdala before it snipes back, and gather examples from fellow workers to illustrate how tone adds tonic or toxins.
- Invite an example of good tone from a gentle, and effective leader, and discuss how to offer olive branches at work.
- Ask others at work what tone they hear in your words and compare their responses to what your words meant to convey.
- Speak out when local or national leaders misuse tone for selfish gain or corrupt outcomes.
A Bottom–Line from Poor Tone to Genius:
Not that silver bullets exist for bad tone days, yet the best thing that builds tone is to find solutions that leave no brains behind. On bad days remind yourself that no human is invincible, and yet all make choices that balance the brain’s angel or devil parts of tone in ways that require evidence in practice.
Rather than mistakenly believe that you can do no wrong, learn and teach tools for tone. Exchange that sea of cynicism for renewed brainpower that engages voices on the other side of even the most controversial issues. That’s the tone that fueled Einstein’s brainpower to persist and invent.