09 Apr

Tone of voice: the difference it makes

If you think tone of voice is an ‘airy fairy’ term used by writers and designers, consider this…

Read the statement below, as if you were giving a genuine, heartfelt apology: as the words of someone who has been caught doing something wrong (or at least has to act that way):

“….The committee has recommended that I apologise to the house for my attitude to the commissioner’s inquiry, and I – of course – unreservedly apologise.
I fully accept the recommendations of the committee and thank them for bringing this matter to an end”



Now listen to these words as they were spoken, by Maria Miller:

Whatever she did or didn’t do, the tone used in this apology was surly, churlish, forced – like it was an affront to be asked to do it – and disingenuous.
I got a sense of ‘how dare I be asked to do this?’ and a healthy dollop of arrogance, as in ‘who are they [the public and the committee] to ask me to apologise?’

To my mind, it’s this attempted apology, and the manner in which it was delivered, which made things so difficult for Maria Miller.

I wonder what effect a little humility – a different tone of voice – would’ve had…


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