Thursday, December 29, 2011
"Don't take that tone with me!!" Admit it. How many of you are guilty of having a parent, guardian, mate, or friend accuse you of having a tone when speaking to them? And be honest, how many of you would reply, "I don't have a tone."
I hated that. I was guilty of it enough when I was growing up. It seemed like I could never have a civil discussion with my mother without her bringing up my tone when addressing her.
Now that I'm a little older, I've taken the time to pause and really consider just what is 'tone'?
Tone is a certain pitch which words are presented. A musician would tell you tone is a certain octave, or note, but I am not a musician. I'm not truly seeking out the scientific meaning of tone, I'm searching on a deeper level.
It finally struck me after some careful thinking, when someone accuses you of 'taking tone' with them, it is that they are hearing a certain volume, pitch, and way you are speaking which they perceive as offensive. Tone is all about perception. I was told once that the world is 10% fact and 90% our own personal perceptions of that fact.
So when you are in an argument with your mother, am I saying that you don't have a tone with her? That you aren't being disrespectful at all? Or that your mother is truly at fault because she is perceiving you in the way she is? Absolutely not.
I think of all the times that I would be so angry with my mother because I didn't hear my own tone at all. How could I have a tone with her if I didn't hear it? That is exactly it, she was hearing the tone through her own perception of the way I was speaking.
I suppose my true question for today is not 'what is tone?' But more specifically 'why is tone such a bad thing?'
Perhaps some of you are parents yourself and you are all too familiar with the rebellious child tone. It occurred to me that the reason that tone is so offensive is the fact that it's hurtful. If you are arguing with someone and you detect they have a tone, perhaps you perceive it as rude, ungrateful, angry, unfair, etc, it's hurtful. Tone is usually why arguments grow. If your mother is telling you to do the dishes and she detects a rude tone from you, wouldn't that hurt her feelings? She is perceiving that you cannot be bothered with what she asks you to do, she could also take it as that you truly don't respect her or you are ungrateful for all she has done for you.
The problem is, most people do not put themselves in someone else's shoes. Say you are asking your mother to do something for you, say make a doctor's appointment. In return, she also answers in a impatient tone, implying that she'll 'get to it when she has time.' How will you take her tone? Perhaps you'll believe that your problem is not important enough to her, that she is far to busy to care about your health, or that perhaps she cares nothing for you?
Ah, now are you seeing both sides of things? I am a very sensitive person as is the person I am mated to. It has become very apparent to me how by accident, we can hurt someone with nothing more than a tone. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me? Sometimes a simple word delivered a sharp way can render someone silent. A slap may sting, but it is the words that follow the slap that continue to repeat after, for days, perhaps even years. I am quite sure that all of you can think of something that was said to you, harshly or angrily, that you have never forgotten.
By using a tone you are consciously, or perhaps unconsciously inflicting pain on someone else. One sentence said wrong can destroy dreams, crush hopes, and cause a hurt that may not be visible. It is said that anger is never a primary emotion, that it is secondary. Anger is a mask for many emotions: disappointment, hurt, sadness, pain, and so much more. The reason most arguments spiral out of control is because of tone. Which is what in truth? The act of consciously or unconsciously hurting someone through the way you dictate your words. If someone is hurt, who truly is at fault? Both sides. It takes two to make an argument. Two people, with two out of control tones, both unconsciously hurting each other.
So the next time someone accuses you of having 'tone' truly stop and consider what they have said to you. In some way, your pitch, the way you said the words you were speaking has hurt them, not for a fact that words you said did. And in such situations, I would apologize, and try to continue at a more reasonable tone to them, not a tone I find suitable. Control. I believe everyone can control their emotions, tones, and their ability to hurt someone. I believe you can.
I hope you take this to heart, perhaps this could help in your next disagreement.
I hope you enjoyed reading, as always.