Several years ago my ex and I had an exchange that to this day the impact is still very significant to me and so I have decided to share. It is communicating in the right tone. We became a couple however because of our work schedule she went to a popular gym in the area, very expensive but nice. The gym I attended was very intimate, small and inexpensive, so I recommended to her that maybe she should consider coming to my gym.
“It’s working for me,” she replied, somewhat taken aback.
As a Christian I try to be honest and consistent in my behaviour with people, so I went on and on about it and to my surprise she was silent and determined to still attend her gym because it works for her. It made no sense, she was selfish and I started evaluating if she was truly into the relationship or to her I was just a father figure as I am 11 years older, so many questions were in my mind.
We went to counselling for the first time and it was now my opportunity to raise the subject, we had to have the conversation, we had to get to the bottom of this. I raised the subject and explained the situation, the counsellor looked at her and asked the question, saying he thought I was making a reasonable request. She said, “I work very closely with people, I am a physiotherapist and when I get the chance away to a gym I need space to recover”. This made all the sense in the world, so my question was why could she not share that with me all these months?
The conversation led me to this knowledge and I will share with you:
“Whatever the content of the things we say, it’s our tone that communicates what we’re feeling when we say them. Our tone tells the truth even when our words don’t, even when we’re unaware of that truth ourselves. And it’s our tone to which others respond. We can even say “I love you” in a way that provokes bitterness and then innocently argue we’re being unfairly attacked when the person to whom we’ve said it quite rightly responds to our tone rather than our words. Don’t be fooled by this kind of faux denial from others. What you think you hear in another person’s tone is almost always present. And if someone accuses you of an attitude or feeling you don’t think you have, unless they’re particularly thick or have some hidden agenda, what they have to say likely represents something you need to hear.” Alex Lickerman M.D.
We’re often unaware of tensions and attitudes brewing underneath the surface. When others respond to us negatively or in ways other than what we want or expect, rather than criticizing or attacking them, we might pause to reflect on how our tone (and therefore our underlying feelings of the moment) may have caused the reaction we received. For me, this is far easier said than done…
As a Christian I would struggle with being hit on one cheek and then turning another, I struggled with loving my enemies, it was difficult enough loving my unreasonable neighbours, however if you honestly want to make your relationships work then you have to pay attention to communicating in the right tone.
I’ve had no opportunity to watch myself communicate and so the only thing I had to depend on is another person’s opinion of me, that was my ex-wife and so she declared that she wanted to express how she felt about the gym, in fact she tried communicating it to me on several occasions according to her but was shut down by me talking above her and most things said to me by her during the exchange did not make sense and if she was not making sense then in her mind, why have the conversation, so she had nothing to say, leaving me scratching my head about the situation, so communicating in the right tone made a difference to me if i wanted to get my point across to her.
Communicating in the right tone
It is true, that whenever we are challenged, if it doesn’t makes sense to us and its challenge it is our tone that we sometimes use to intimidate persons who may challenge our theory, it is with our tone that we use to keep our kids in line, it is with our tone that we use to keep our subordinates in line, when we are upset it is with our tone that we use in getting the message across, not now… DON’T MESS WITH US!
If you haven’t ever watched yourself interact with others in your daily life on video when you weren’t focused on being filmed or even aware of it, I highly recommend it. It might be a painful experience when in counselling I was told that if someone doesn’t agree with me I refuse to listen, but if you’re willing to be honest with yourself and recognize the truth of what you see –and more importantly the truth of what you hear–you can use it as a springboard for outstanding personal growth.
Yes the communicating in the right tone is that important to interaction, it can decide the rise and fall of your relationship, now go and work on it and I hope you found this topic useful.