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Watch Your Tone!

by Carmela Maraan

“Don’t use that tone of voice with me!”

How many times have you admonished someone, or have been admonished with this line? This happens often, not only in real-life exchanges, but also in online discussions. Unnecessary misunderstandings crop up because of the way something is said, and not necessarily what is being said. Kids are also usually subjected to this with well-meaning but poorly delivered criticism.

In blogging, the same principle applies.

I’ve seen some intelligent people with great ideas alienating themselves from their audience just because their messages come off as snarky, condescending, or even contemptuous, which is one of the worst and most arrogant attitudes that can be conveyed to anyone.

On the flip side, there’s also a style of online writing that panders too much to the audience. You’ll see several examples of this in landing pages, promotional newsletters, and some business websites. While it attempts to sound friendly, it gives off a patronizing and insincere impression.

Tone is the distinct personality and attitude that you project onto your readers. It’s a combination of the words that you use and how you use them. In fact, how you use your words is highly responsible for how you make your audience feel, regardless of what you say.

So how do you figure out what tone to use? It depends on key aspects of written communication:

Why you’re writing your material

When you’re writing content for your blog, it’s not enough that you select the appropriate words and terms to use. You need to tap into your material’s purpose, even if it’s content that’s mandated by your employer or clients, and not of your own choosing. Are you aiming to sell, inform, motivate, entertain, or befriend your readers?

For example, if you’re writing for a business blog, this is because you’re selling the brand to potential partners and investors. If you’re writing personal articles, perhaps it’s because you want your opinions and ideas to be heard.

Whom the material is intended for

Your target audience plays a huge part in determining your tone, so you need to determine exactly what kind of people you are writing for. You can’t use a highly technical style of writing when communicating with a broad audience, and content fraught with slang won’t always sit well with readers of corporate blogs.

What you wish to communicate to your readers

This is where you get to the bottom line: what is the end result you wish to see in your readers? What do you want them to feel after reading your material? How should you frame your words so you can sell, inform, motivate, entertain, or befriend them? How do you want to sound?

We don't know what he's saying, but we love how he says it.

An easy way to determine your writing tone is to list down all the qualities you want your audience to see: authoritative, friendly, easygoing, funny, inspiring. And when that gets difficult, you can also list down the qualities you want to avoid: arrogant, boring, uninformed, unprofessional, phony.

Finding and applying the right tone takes plenty of work because it requires a significant amount of empathy. What may sound good to you may not sound good to your readers, so try to see your words from their point of view.

You can refer to instances when you have received the best and worst responses from those who’ve read your previous work. You can also ask friends, colleagues, or even friendly competitors to give you an honest critique of your material.

Understandably, this requires compromise on your part, and at times you’ll have to take a long, hard look at your own personality quirks and flaws (I certainly had to, and it was embarrassingly tough). But if you’re sharing an idea and want people to appreciate it the way you want it to be appreciated, this exercise is crucial. Otherwise, your thoughts, no matter how brilliant they are, will only be ignored or even rejected.

You may think, but this is the way I express myself or I’m not here to please everyone, and you’re right. But the point of communication is to listen to your audience so you can meet them halfway to ensure that your message gets across with as little resistance as possible. It’s worth it, I promise.

If you’ve encountered other lessons on using the right tone for your blog, we’d be glad to hear about them here!

Image credits: Razoo.Com, Schools.Wetfeet.Com, Tier1.Wordpress.Com

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Rebecca Girl Code February 6, 2014 at 10:43 pm

Writing really is not easy especially if you’re just a beginner but I think all people can be writers, either experts or not. I totally agree with this “how you use your words is highly responsible for how you make your audience feel, regardless of what you say.” because writing is simply like talking to another person but through words so you must express the right things in writing. Thanks for sharing this Carmela, you did an awesome post here.

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Carmela Maraan February 8, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Hi Rebecca,

You got that right. Like you, I also think that everyone can be writers because writing is one direct function of communication. It’s just a matter of how, when, and whom you write to.

Thanks so much! :)


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Davinder bisht February 7, 2014 at 5:15 am

Usually I do not post comments on blogs, but I would like to say that
this blog really forced me to do so! Thanks,for a really nice read.

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karan February 12, 2014 at 6:27 am

Yup writing is always important for the blogging, i always consider to solve the problem of my visitor as putting my self in their shoes while writing any article.

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jeane February 12, 2014 at 8:05 am

My biggest difficulty is when to make the first paragraph. it is very difficult, because I was required to create a word splash. through the discussions here I hope to find an answer ..
tanks ..

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demo February 18, 2014 at 4:12 am


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World Wide Delivery February 21, 2014 at 6:16 am

Great work, i like your post very much..

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how to change name February 21, 2014 at 6:17 am

Thanks for sharing this wonderful post, It is awesome.

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joseph101 March 5, 2014 at 6:25 am

Yes your tone can make or break your image…. I totally agree with you… Nice post…

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Adam March 9, 2014 at 6:17 pm

Thank you for this great post, Carmela. As a new blogger, this info will definitely come in handy as I start actively blogging. Thanks again!

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Shakira March 14, 2014 at 12:58 pm

your post is great

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Your Name March 25, 2014 at 7:48 am



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Carmela Maraan March 27, 2014 at 4:32 am

Thank you. :)

Please consider, however, that using all caps is also detrimental in establishing an approachable tone, because it’s the equivalent of yelling online.


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Sam April 2, 2014 at 6:31 am

One of the greatest pieces of advice I was given as a youngster is to treat people how you like to be treated. The same should go into your writing. Write in a tone that you would feel comfortable reading. However, this could go wrong if your sense of humour is crazy, though it should work fine for the masses.

Keep up the good work Carmela

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Interiorni Vrati April 4, 2014 at 2:47 pm

Hmm , nice and very important topic “Don’t use that tone of voice with me!” Very interesting topic. I agree with many of your views .Congratulations on this great blog and work. best regards.

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Rahul Gupta April 15, 2014 at 8:23 am

Nice post to know about the how to use our tone in any conversation. Thanks for the different article.

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Karan Rawat April 21, 2014 at 6:34 pm

Words are so powerfull, bad words or bad tone is like verbal abuse!
Verbal abuse is the use of words or tone of voice to demean, devalue, or otherwise hurt someone’s feelings.

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Rohitesh Bhan May 6, 2014 at 5:05 am

Writing in right manner is the most important part of a blog… you should use proper words and try to use words to improve the vocab of people….

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womens weight lifting belts May 8, 2014 at 9:55 am

It is very difficult, because I was required to create a word splash.I totally agree with this “how you use your words is highly responsible for how you make your audience feel. Thanks.

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Prateek May 14, 2014 at 8:51 am

Great tips for newbies, some even great content may be disliked by audience due to not so attracting tone of the writer.

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saspapercup May 26, 2014 at 2:47 am

Thank you so much for the post. I really like this article. Obviously content must be the king of the blog. Powerful words and the phrase sentence should convey the matter.

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Aaron Diaz May 27, 2014 at 8:32 am

I’m very glad to come here and read your article its really amazing post and great information and I also agree with “how you use your words is highly responsible for how you make your audience feel, regardless of what you say.” And thanks for share with us.

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brave frontier hack no survey no password June 16, 2014 at 5:42 am

Hmm it appears like your blog ate my first comment (it was extremely
long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.

I as well am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to the whole thing.
Do you have any tips and hints for newbie blog writers? I’d certainly appreciate it.

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