Tone of Voice

Tone of Voice There are many books, audios, and videos about relationships and more specifically, communication skills. Often this is referred to as “assertive communication skills training”. This typically involves improving your words to say and words not to say. This is somewhat effective. But these skills alone are generally not enough by themselves to actually help a couple effectively communicate and resolve differences. Why not? Because research shows that in any given communication, the bulk of a communication comes across as #1 tone of voice, #2 body language (including facial expressions), and #3 literal choice of words. This is why communication skills need to focus primarily on tone of voice to start. When a good tone of voice is used, body language, facial expression, and choice of words will naturally tend to follow that initial tone. So, focus mainly on that and you will be well on your way to communicating effectively.

Types of Tone of Voice:

There are many kinds of tones of voices, but they can basically be broken down into three types. First, an “aggressive” tone sounds open, honest, and direct, but in a strong and even offensive fashion usually at the expense of the other person’s feelings. Examples of aggressive tones include being loud—even screaming—as the most common type here. Other aggressive tones include those sounding sarcastic, patronizing, passive aggressive, sharp, biting, exasperated, annoyed, irritated, and so on in some kind of negative fashion. The aggressive tone sends the message that “I am superior and right, and have a more important point that you, so my message should dominate over your message.” The temptation for using an aggressive tone is because other people often give in to aggressive sounding people just to placate them and get them to stop, at least initially. However, this cooperation is usually temporary, and resistance will soon follow, either directly or indirectly.

Another type of tone of voice is “passive”. To have a passive tone means talking so softly and submissively that even though such a tone sounds civil and respectful, it is usually so soft that it sounds like submission. Like that the person is just going to give in to what the other person wants and thinks. So even though sounding submissive helps a person get along with the other and keep the peace, the submissive sounding person will not be respected, considered, or taken seriously.

The last tone of voice is an “assertive” tone, which is usually the ideal and most effective tone in communication. This tone is a general balance in between aggressive and assertive. The assertive is honest, open, and direct sounding like aggressive communication, but is also civil and respectful sounding like passive communication. The benefits of the other two extreme tones without the liabilities of either. This tone is a combination of firm but civil. A blending of respectfulness and seriousness. This tone of voice shows you mean what you are saying but also that you are trying to convey the desire to get along with the other person and consider their feelings at the same time.

Improving Your Tone of Voice:

To improve your tone of voice, notice which of these three tones of voice is your most commonly used type when in a conflict or difference of opinion with another person. Why? Because most people can get along when there is not conflict going on. The tone used at times of conflict, stress, and differences of opinion reveals the tone needing improvement. Most people need some tweaking and adjusting with how they sound at these moments. Whatever your conflict tone tends to be, you can improve it and make it more assertive. A good method: Take out the video recording feature of your cell phone and record a mock conflict communication scenario. Try to speak assertively. Then, watch back your video and repeat until you feel satisfied that you have achieved the effective assertive tone you desire. When this tone is practiced enough, it can become natural and automatic so it will come out at moments of conflict reflexively. When you can get into your assertiveness mode without having to think about it.

Final Thoughts:

Please be aware of your tone of voice first and foremost when communicating with others. This way, you will be the most effective at communicating your thoughts and resolving differences together. Please work to improve your tone through self-awareness and practice so you will effectively have an assertive-sounding tone whenever needed. If you don’t do this, such moments of conflict will continue to go less than ideal. Remember that the best way to help others improve is to start by improving yourself. Role model a good tone, and the other person will be far more likely to follow as well. Improve your tone to improve your relationships with the opposite sex, as well as with all people in general. 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

2024-04-13 Randy Gilchrist

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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