16 May 2011

Tone - No Drama Here

When writing fiction, we can create all the drama we want. In fact, readers want that. However, in business, we deal in strictly "NO DRAMA". It can be tricky trying to take the drama out of your readers’ heads before they even read your message. Some readers feel instant drama over certain words or the arrangement of words.

Here is a letter to consider. Negative impact words in red, positive in blue:


For the past three weeks, we have been getting emails concerning the rerouting of parking spaces at the front of the building. This project has been in the working for many months and we have all been forewarned of the limited parking spaces during this period.

Please do NOT send me emails regarding this parking issue as it is the responsibility of City of Madeupcityname, not our internal facilities maintenance department.

Thank you!

That has some serious tone in it, don't you think? When you compile a letter of any sort, you should keep in mind that the reader does not care what you are going through. They are not concerned with how bad your day has been. All they want from you is for you to respond with something helpful. If you are broadcasting a message, you have to be more diligent in removing the drama.

Broadcasting with tone is not a good idea. When you broadcast with tone, EVERYBODY gets it that you probably need a vacation.

Instead of being a victim (having tone), try being a hero (being helpful). It is easier to do. It sounds like the person who wrote this next message is more in control, doesn't it?

Good morning, everyone!

I would like briefly to remind you of the limited parking spaces we have available due to an ongoing construction project sponsored by the City of Madeupcityname in an effort to improve navigation flow to and from the inner city metropolis.

Please send all inquiries to:

City of Madeupcityname, Planning and Development Department
5785 Main Street
Madeupcityname, XX 89999
(888) 878-4444.

Thank you!


  1. This is a wonderful cautionary blog- it could be that going tone-all is just shy of going postal!

  2. Never quite thought of it that way, but yea, that one in the first letter sounded like he was ready to go postal. :)


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