4 Ways to Turn Up and Tone Down

As I walked into the dimly lit church on Christmas Eve, I reverently bowed my head and quickly followed my family into our usual pew. I reflected on the year, the ups, downs, and everything in between. Then all of the sudden, all eyes turned to a beautiful woman cantering the endless rows of people. As I listened to her melodic voice echo through every corner of the room, I felt my eyes shut as I entered my most familiar ‘bliss’. Just as my euphoric trance was entering its climax, a noise that resembled a cacophonous noise pierced the air. My eyes shot open as I scanned the room looking for the terrible creature that ruined this amazing peaceful moment. All eyes fell upon my sister, who was singing her tone-deaf heart out.

We can be completely blind to the way we come across to other people. In our heads we hear a melodious mockingbird, singing the morning away, while others could hear noises that resemble a dying cat. Whether it be your singing voice or the manner in which you speak to your coworkers, tone affects everything.

Millennials are notorious for their acclaimed “attitudes”. We have taken the sassy burden upon us. We have successfully caused the birth of the phrase “Don’t use that tone with me” and have coined the eye roll in every form. Tone is an important indicator in our everyday conversation. But have you ever thought about how your tone might affect your workplace interactions? Luckily, there are a couple of quick tips you can keep in mind to help you out in writing that email that has been burning in the back of your mind to that guy three cubicles down that so obviously has no idea what his job description is.

Speak With Purpose

Your words are precious, so why waste a single character on those who don’t care? Make sure that everything you write has significance in the reader’s eyes. You want to be as concise and efficient in your writing as possible. Remember to write in a positive light as well. Change all of the ‘hope’ in your writing to ‘looking forward to’, and all of that ‘Have Not’ that clouds your resumes should be turned into what you do ‘Have’. You should speak of yourself in the most encouraging way, because if not you then who?

154006-157718Be Confident

Just spitballing off of encouraging yourself, but, why not believe in yourself while you are at it? Every word should scream, ‘this is me, and I’m proud of my opinion!”. There are many times in our lives where we feel our opinion’s are undervalued or overlooked. As Millennials we need to believe in ourselves! Try to avoid acting “all high and mighty”, however. Use your words to be gracious and grateful. Remind people that you value their opinion and also the time they took to read your words.


As life has lead us through many textbooks in our lives, think back to the things we were ‘supposed’ to remember. They all have one thing in common, emphasis. In one way or another, formatting was used to capture your attention and make a mark in your memory. Whether it’s the bold letters, flying presentation effects, or flashing colors, emphasis has an extreme impact on our memory of important topics. There are a couple of important things you should remember on effective emphasis.

Major vs. Minor: We have learned throughout our lives to focus on the positive and set aside the negative things that will hold us back. So why not use this in our professional writing? Focus on the Major points that support your argument or opinion. You can even stress these points multiple times to magnify their importance. Use minor thoughts or neutral points to simply support your argument. Make each email, memo, etc. about the great things you need to simply scream to the world!

Active vs. Passive: “Love is what I have for you”, said no romantic song or movie in history. Passively conveying information should be saved for scientific theory papers. Each sentence you construct should be used to actively support your argument. Focus on emphasizing your subject in your writing. When you focus more on the noun, people can identify more with the verb being done to it.

Be Neutral

In this growing and changing nation we are a part of, it is extremely important to keep in mind the ever changing culture that surrounds us. It is tremendous to your writing to remain neutral at all times. Try to use ‘it’ or ‘they’, instead of ‘he’ or ‘she’. You should also be conscious of other groups that might be sensitive to their identification. Gender, age, or race should rarely ever be used in business professional writing.

While it might seem daunting to now think of the way your writing reads to other, don’t be scared to remain true to your opinion. Think of constructive ways to write in your workplace while still having a bit of substance. As always, be Millennial, and happy writing!


11 thoughts on “4 Ways to Turn Up and Tone Down

  1. I loved your intro, I think unfortunately I too sing like a dying cat. I also think it is important to remain neutral, we are used to speaking in specific ways but when you don’t know exactly the audience it is so important to remain neutral to avoid offending people. Good work!!

    1. Thank Emily! I worked hard on this anecdote and I’m glad you related well to the dying cat singing voice. I agree with the neutrality, you don’t want to seem like you are attacking your coworkers but you also want them to understand your point!

  2. I liked how you mentioned that millennials are notorious for their attitudes and that we have taken the sassy burden upon us. I can relate to this because I still find myself talking in a sassy voice occasionally, and I don’t even realize that I am doing it. I also like your point of being confident because it is important to convey to the reader that you know what you are talking about.

  3. Your story to introduce the blog is very good. It is a good comedic yet informing story to help identify tone. The be neutral is also a very import thing that I thought was good that you added. People really do get offended by such things nowadays and it is very important to keep in mind. It was also great added info to end the blog with.

  4. Your intro was so personal and beautiful.. It was a great introduction to this piece. I really like how you broke down your emphasis section in to passive vs active, major vs. minor. I think those are both really important points to make when talking about tone. Great work!

  5. Preaching to the choir…no pun intended. But the imagery for this post was really strong especially in your intro. I enjoyed how all of your points had a relatable example that could be be directly drawn back to your point. This made it easy to understand where and how you were suggesting improvements.

    1. I’m glad to know that you found the anecdote useful throughout the blog! I like to use the opening story to not only catch your attention but to keep it through the rest of the blog!

  6. Your title is what drew me to read this post initially. It really grabbed my attention. Your advice on remaining neutral in writing is imperative. Millennials are exposed to a lot of situations where neutrality is not required, so being conscious of this may help some individuals avoid conflict. Also, your humorous tone throughout the whole piece kept me engaged.

  7. Rebekah, I loved your intro. It really caught my attention and made the post very relatable. The part where talked about emphasis was helpful and overall you made some great points throughout this post. Nice job!

  8. Your introduction was both hilarious and made me want to read on. We all know the person who you referenced that thinks they can sing and doesn’t understand their true tone. I like the way you outlined your blog and made your big points easy to pick up on by just skimming the article over. Under each tip you also offer some great examples of how to achieve that specific goal. Awesome job!

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