Tone in Business Writing
This handout provides overviews and examples of how to use tone in occupation write. This includes considering the consultation and determination for writing.
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What is Tone?
“ tonicity in writing refers to the writer ‘s attitude toward the reviewer and the topic of the message. The overall timbre of a written message affects the lector just as one ‘s tonicity of voice affects the hearer in everyday exchanges ” ( Ober 88 ) .
occupation writers should consider the spirit of their message, whether they are writing a memo, letter, report, or any type of business document. tone is give in all communication activities. ultimately, the tone of a message is a reflection of the writer and it does affect how the lector will perceive the message .
How can I make sure my messages have the appropriate tone?
The writer should consider several things when preparing to write. The pursuit questions will help you to determine the allow tone for your message .
- Why am I writing this document?
- Who am I writing to and what do I want them to understand?
- What kind of tone should I use?
Why am I writing this document?
You should take time to consider the aim of your document in club to determine how you should express the message you wish to convey. obviously, you want the message to reach your audience, and you will probably want the lector to take some natural process in response to your message .
When you consider the message and how you wish to express it, the tone of your message will become apparent .
Suzy is writing a job acceptance letter to an employer but is uncertain of the tone she should take in the message. She has decided to accept the position. When she asks herself, “ What is my purpose upon writing ? ” she answers, “ I want to accept the position, thank the company for the offer, and establish good will with my modern co-workers. ” As she writes the letter she quickly assumes a tone that is appreciative for the offer and enthusiastic about beginning a newly job .
Who am I writing to and what do I want them to understand?
Who is your audience ? Whether it is an employer or a companion proletarian, it is essential that you consider your reviewer before writing any document. Your message will be much more effective if you tailor the document to reach your specific consultation. The message you wish to express must be written in a means that will effectively reach the reviewer .
The tone that you use to write the document directly affects how the reviewer will interpret what is said .
Bob is writing a covering letter for a position as a Sales Representative for a newspaper. He is uncertain that he will be able to succeed at such a position, and uses phrases such as : “ I hope that you will contact me … ” “ I know that my qualifications are not very impressive, but … ”
The lector is likely to interpret these phrases to mean that Bob is n’t very qualified for the place or that he does n’t truly want the position .
clearly, Bob is not assuming an appropriate tone. He must consider that :
- He is applying for a position as a Sales Representative.
- He wants the employer to ask him to come in for an interview.
- The employer will look for highly motivated and confident individuals.
If Bob were to consider these things he may rewrite his cover letter to include such phrases as : “ You can reach me at 555-2233 ; I look forward to hearing from you. ” “ My qualifications make me an excellent applicant for this stead … ”
The tone of the message has changed drastically to sound more convinced and self-assured .
What kind of tone should I use?
fortunately, you can use the same kind of spirit for most business messages. “ The business writer should strive for an overall tone that is convinced, courteous, and earnest ; that uses vehemence and subordination appropriately ; that contains nondiscriminatory language ; that stresses the “ you ” attitude ; and that is written at an appropriate horizontal surface of difficulty ” ( Ober 88 ). The only major exceptions to these guidelines are when you need to write a minus commercial enterprise message, such as when you deny a job offer or a customer request .
here are some cosmopolitan guidelines to keep in heed when considering what kind of spirit to use in your letters and how to present information in that shade :
- Be confident.
- Be courteous and sincere.
- Use appropriate emphasis and subordination.
- Use non-discriminatory language.
- Stress the benefits for the reader.
- Write at an appropriate level of difficulty.
You can feel confident if you have carefully prepared and are knowledgeable about the material you wish to express. The manner in which you write should assume a confident note a well. As you prepare business documents, you want the lector to do as you ask or to accept your decision. In ordering to make the document effective, you must write confidently .
consequently, a confident tone will have a persuasive effect on your audience. The reader will become more incline to accept your position, and will notice the confidence that you have. Employers are inclined to hire individuals that appear confident and sure of their abilities .
This does not mean however ; that you should appear cocksure. This can easily be interpreted as arrogant or assumptive .
For example :
Not: You must agree that I am qualified for the position.
But: My qualifications in the areas of accounting and customer service meet your job requirements .
Be Courteous and Sincere
A writer builds goodwill for him or herself by using a spirit that is civilized and sincere. It is crucial to strive for seriousness in tone because without sincerity, politeness can sound condescending
Consider the words and phrases you use in your document and how your proofreader will probable receive them. If you are respectful and honest, readers will be more uncoerced to accept your message, even if it is negative .
For exercise :
Not: You did n’t read the instructions carefully, frankincense your system has shut down.
But: The system may automatically shut down if any initiation errors occur .
Use Appropriate Emphasis and Subordination
You can help your readers to understand which of your ideas you consider most significant by using vehemence and subordination. You can choose from a diverseness of strategies to emphasize an idea or to subordinate it .
To emphasize an idea, place it in a short prison term. A short and childlike sentence will most effectively convey an crucial idea. You can provide far explanation, sufficient examples, or evidence in following sentences. To subordinate an idea, place it in a compound conviction .
Emphasis: Smoking will no longer be permitted in the building. The committee on employee health and safety reached this decisiveness after considering testify from researchers and physicians on the dangers of second-hand smoke.
Subordination: The committee on employee health and safety has finished considering evidence, and they have reached the decision that smoking will no long be permitted in the build .
Ideas placed in the first paragraph of a document or message receive the most emphasis, followed by data placed in the last paragraph. You can subordinate an mind by placing it in middle paragraph of your message because these paragraphs receive the least stress .
Use active voice voice to emphasize the person or matter performing an action and passive voice voice to emphasize the legal action that is being performed .
Active: Scientists have conducted experiments to test the guess .
Passive: Experiments have been conducted to test the guess .
Note: In most nonscientific writing situations, active voice voice is preferable to passive for the majority of your sentences. even in scientific write, overuse of passive voice or use of passive voice in long and complicate sentences can cause readers to lose sake or to become confuse. Sentences in active voice are generally—though not always— clear and more direct than those in passive voice. You can recognize passive-voice expressions because the verb idiom will always include a mannequin of be, such as am, is, was, were, are, or been. The bearing of a be-verb, however, does not necessarily mean that the conviction is in passive voice. Another way to recognize passive-voice sentences is that they may include a “ by the … ” give voice after the verb ; the agent performing the carry through, if named, is the object of the preposition in this phrase .
You can besides emphasize and subordinate information by letting readers know how you feel about the information .
The measure of distance that you devote to an idea will help convey the theme ‘s importance to the reader. Discuss ideas that you want to emphasize in more detail than you do ideas that you want to subordinate .
The terminology you use to describe your ideas can besides suggest how significant that estimate is. use phrases such as “ most crucial, ” “ major, ” or “ elementary ” when discussing ideas you want to emphasize and phrases such as “ a child point to consider ” or “ least authoritative ” to discuss ideas you want to subordinate .
Emphasis: Our chief consideration must be cost .
Subordination: A minor point to consider is appearance
Repeating crucial ideas is well way to emphasize them deoxyadenosine monophosphate well. Be careful not to overuse this scheme ; you will lose your readers ‘ interest if they believe you are needlessly repeating information .
Our primary consideration must be cost – cost to purchase, cost to operate, and cost to maintain .
Any information that stands out from the rest of the textbook will be emphasized. Bolding, underscore, CAPITALIZING, indent, and highlighting will convey vehemence to your reader. Do not use this scheme frequently or the design effect will be lost .
Use Nondiscriminatory Language
Nondiscriminatory terminology is linguistic process that treats all people evenly. It does not use any discriminatory words, remarks, or ideas. It is very important that the business writer communicate in a way that expresses equality and regard for all individuals. discriminatory speech can come between your message and your subscriber. Make sure your write is detached of sexist terminology and free of bias based on such factors as subspecies, ethnicity, religion, age, intimate orientation, and disability .
- Use neutral job titles
- Avoid demeaning or stereotypical terms
Not: After the girls in the office receive an order, our office fills it within 24 hours.
But: When orders are received from the position, they are filled within 24 hours .
- Avoid words and phrases that unnecessarily imply gender.
Not: Executives and their wives
But: Executives and their spouses
- Omit information about group membership.
Not: Connie Green performed the job well for her age.
But: Connie Green performed the job well .
- If you do not know a reader’s gender, use a nonsexist salutation.
Not: Dear Gentlemen :
But: To Whom it May Concern :
- do not use masculine pronouns.
Not: Each scholar must provide his own lab jacket.
But: Students must provide their own lab jackets. Or Each student must provide his or her own lab jacket .
Stress the Benefits For the Reader
write from the lector ‘s position. rather of plainly writing from the perspective of what the proofreader can do for you, write in a means that shows what you can do for the proofreader. A subscriber will often read a document wondering “ What ‘s in it for me ? ” It is your subcontract to tailor your document consequently .
Not: I am processing your regulate tomorrow.
But: Your order will be available in two weeks .
Stressing reader benefits will help you to avoid sounding egoistic and uninterested .
Write at an Appropriate Level of Difficulty
It is all-important that you write at an appropriate level of difficulty in rate to clearly convey your message. Consider your consultation and prepare your writing so that the proofreader will distinctly understand what it is that you are saying. In other words, prepare your expressive style of reading to match the recitation abilities of your hearing. Do not use complex passages or terms that the subscriber will not understand. accordingly, do not use simple terms or insufficient examples if the lector is capable of understanding your write. A competent writer will match the needs and abilities of their reader and find the most effective way to communicate with a finical subscriber .
What kind of tone should I use with a negative message?
It is specially authoritative to consider tone when you are writing a minus message. In a negative message, such as a document that rejects a job offer or denies a request, be certain to assume a tone that is gracious and sincere. Thank the subscriber for their stimulation or involvement and carefully state that you can not comply with their wishes. Follow this reply with an explanation as necessary .
It is best not to draw attention to the person performing the action that will probably displease the lector. consequently, you may want to avoid using active voice voice when delivering minus messages. You might besides avoid stressing the reader benefits unless there are clear benefits to the damaging message. It can sound insincere to stress reviewer benefits in a negative message .
Not: Thank you for offering me the position as general Manager at Simon ‘s Inc. unfortunately, I am unable to accept the status. I did not think that the military position you offered me would utilize my communication and customer-service skills to the degree that I wanted. Therefore, I have accepted a position as Assistant Director at a different party
But: Thank you for offering me the status as general Manager at Simon ‘s Inc. I appreciate your prompt and generous offer. unfortunately, I am ineffective to accept the placement. I have accepted a different position that will allow me to utilize my communication and customer-service skills .
In some negative messages, you may need to address faults or issues concerning an individual. When writing messages such as this, maintain a professional tone that does not attack the person but that makes your put on the issue clear.
For example :
Not: I do not understand why you made such discriminatory remarks.
But: Discriminatory remarks are not tolerated in this organization .
For more information about tonicity, experience : Ober, Scott. Contemporary Business Communication. 2nd Edition. Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1995 .