The Elusive Tone



It’s a word that can mean many different things. For musicians, guitar players especially, it’s an elusive thing to find the perfect tone. Every guitar sounds different, every amp has it’s own feel, every pedal needs to be dialed in just perfectly to find the perfect sound.

For painters it can mean the different shades of color. How light is reflected or absorbed off of the canvas portrays the attitude of the painting.

Then there is writing. Authors have the ability to write fairy tales or horror stories. The tone of the book can also be defined as the mood of the book.

Then there’s speech. The tone in which we speak typically communicates an attitude or emotion regardless of the words we use. It is the undercurrent of what we are saying but ultimately determines how it is received by the listener.

Think about it this way. Since it’s currently the Christmas season, we’ll use the phrase Merry Christmas. If someone where to tell you Merry Christmas yet sound like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh, would you really take it as a cheerful greeting or goodbye saying? I wouldn’t. I would probably think that person is more like Scrooge and saying it out of obligation, having a bad day,  or just plain miserable.

Then there’s the other side. Someone says Merry Christmas in an animated or enthusiastic way, would you take it as they are having a rough holiday season?  No!  You would interpret by the tone that they are excited or happy about Christmas, and want you to have one as well.

Proverbs says,

Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.
Proverbs 16:24

I read into this verse that how we speak matters just as much as what we say. I am much more receptive to someone that will speak kindly and gently, rather than harsh or aloof. I will take a kind rebuke much quicker than a harsh one. Remember that old saying, “You’ll catch more flies with honey than….”   Yea, that applies here.

As a slightly blunt person I know my tone gets in the way a ton so I’m not telling you to do something I’m not working on myself. I’m straight forward most of the time so it comes across as harsh or rude but I never really mean it that way. It’s one of those things that I strive to make better in my life.

I don’t know if it’s just me because I’m the one doing the writing, or if you notice it as well, but words and speech continue to stick out in the Proverbs this go round. Earlier this week I wrote about watching what we say. Today’s post is how we say it. I think it’t time we start paying attention to our speech. Our words carry a weight beyond measure. Let’s use them wisely.


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