More Color Than Words

“Tone . . . has solely to do with intentionality,”  Noah Lukeman said in The First Five Pages. Intention, like this pumpkin ready to be harvested, is hard to hide. It’s big and colorful and has grown for a long time.

Tone colors the words that we speak and write more than we think. I recently asked a question of a friend to invite an honest discussion. She answered with words that sounded right; yet, her tone led me to think she was simply saying what she thought she should say rather than what she naturally felt. Overall, the response felt pretentious.

Sometimes my words don’t bring about my intended goal, either, because my tone reveals hidden motivators. For example, when I hear frustration in my voice toward my children or my husband, I want to change my words, but it’s the bigger, deeper intention that needs the work. My husband would call this cognitive dissonance—when our words or actions don’t match our intention. The quote by Lukeman reminds me that it’s in the tone where that dissonance is most noticeable.

Just like I would prefer a loving tone toward my family or a genuine tone from a friend, I much prefer the harmony that exists when tone enhances words. Like this pumpkin in a backdrop of native grasses, tone ideally will fit together with the whole.


  1. Debs
    Oct 2, 2009

    It uncanny reading this today, my friend and I was talking about the same thing just this afternoon….the pros and cons of really speaking as we’re thinking verses how a pretentious response can sometimes be the better move. Deep subject but one that had me thinking long after our conversation and now i’m off again with it!! 😉


  2. David
    Oct 2, 2009

    Sometimes it is better to say what we are “supposed” to say instead of what is really on our mind and how we feel. I have learned that the hard way.

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