Tone of Voice

Tone of Voice In previous articles I have covered and addressed communication skills from several angles. However, the longer I do therapy with couples and the more I hear the different conflict and arguments, I have come to realize that the most important element of communication is the tone of voice. How we sound will trigger other elements of communication: facial expression, body language, and choice of words. Most communication actually comes from our non-verbals, with tone of voice largely dictating the rest of the communication. Therefore, it is logical that controlling one’s tone of voice is also usually the most difficult and challenging part of communication.

Types of tones of voices:

Many types of tones of voice will sound negative and be received negatively by others. There are 4 main kinds of negative tones. Angry tones include sounding mad, upset, irritated, annoyed, resentful, and, of course, being loud. Sad tones include sounding down, depressed, hopeless, lethargic, unmotivated, helpless, low energy, and so on. Anxious tones sound worried, concerned, pressured, stressed, panicked, etc. Guilty tones sound regretful or remorseful. Any of these 4 types of tones can come across as negative in some way and perhaps manipulative. In a discussion involving differences or opinion or conflict, using one of these negative sounding tones will commonly result in the other person reacting in a defensive, drained, or even upset way.

Conversely, other more positive tones of voice will likely be taken better by the other person when discussing challenging topics, including sounding soft, civil, respectful, innocent, curious, caring, non-threatening, collaborative, and considerate. Being mindful of how you are sounding will help you show the best tone of voice that will then be received best by the other person. This is an important, essential skill of communication and conflict resolution. There is an old saying: you’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Sounding positive will lessen defenses, and will be more likely to result in agreement, compromise, and positive negotiation. Therefore, showing a positive tone will result in a better outcome, most of the time in most situations. Please keep this in mind and work to keep a positive tone as often as you can when talking things out with your partner (and with people in general). A good tone makes for good communication and a good result.

Developing a more positive tone:

The most important thing you can do to develop a more positive tone of voice is to be aware. The more you are aware of what tone of voice you are using and how you sound, the better you can modify, adjust, and improve your tone. Still, being aware will only help you so far. Beyond awareness, it is important to practice better tones of voice. That way you be able to better go into character when needed, as needed. Without practice you may be aware of using a negative tone of voice but still not be able to control or improve it because of the emotions of the moment.

A good exercise you can do to improve your tone of voice: First, think of an imminent touchy topic needing to be discussed with a significant other. Second, take your cell phone and push record on the video recording function, Third, practice saying what you want to say to the other in the most positive and appropriate tone of voice possible. Fourth, watch your video and note how well you are coming across (or not). Fifth, record and practice again until you are satisfied with your tone. Sixth, when needed, utilize your positive tone when talking to your significant other when the topic is discussed, as well as with similar discussions as needed in the future.

Final Thoughts:

Some might read this article as just learning how to be a better manipulator. I would disagree. To best communicate and resolve conflict, being a communicator with a positive tone of voice will go a lot better than a negative tone that results in walls being thrown up, defensiveness, resistance, and retaliation. How you come across matters. Think of how you want others to talk to you when there is a difference of opinion or a disagreement. Do you want the other to show a positive tone by sounding civil, respectful, and collaborative, or do you want them to show a negative tone, such as sounding loud, angry, or combative? If you take a moment to have some empathy and imagine what you would like from the other, that can act as a good rule of thumb for improving your tone of voice.

How we think and feel can be different than how we sound with our tone and choice of words. It all doesn’t need to be the same. With some practice and focus, you can get better and be more effective in communications where you see things differently or want different things. A good communicator knows how to sound best to create mutual understanding and achieve successful conflict resolution. Be a person others want to work things out with. It will prepare you well for your eventual marriage and other relationships in life. And remember that “…neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Dr. G
P.S. If you have any questions, comments, or a future article request for me, feel free to contact me at

2023-09-09 Randy Gilchrist Communication

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About the author

Hello, my name is Dr. Randy Gilchrist (aka "Dr. G"). I am a licensed clinical psychologist, a licensed marriage & family therapist, and a certified hypnotherapist in private practice in Roseville, CA (, practicing since 1997. Also, I am happily married in the temple (Manti) since 1996 and have 4 sons. I am a volunteer writer and contributor to LDS Dimension. I use my training, education, and experience to share insights with LDS Dimension on all things of interest to the LDS dating community. Please read my articles and columns on this site to assist you in your online dating journey. Also, to be considered for an answer in a future Q and A column, please email me your dating/relationship oriented questions to Finally, I also offer a powerful, effective worldwide custom hypnosis recording service just for LDS Dimension members for weight loss, pornography, and many other issues of concern to those in the LDS dating community (please learn more now at; email me questions to