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The way we communicate in the workplace has drastically changed. Much of our communication happens via email, instant message, and even Twitter updates. With the increased use of non-direct communication, it's becoming more important to identify the tone we convey in an email or written message. When you don't speak to someone face-to-face, you don't have the benefit of seeing the body language that happens during the conversation. Body language is a huge part of communication: Up to 93 percent of communication is non-verbal. That's a lot of communication to be missing when we're not face-to-face. With the telephone, we can at least hear the pitches and inflections a person uses while speaking. When voice is taken away, words become tone deaf. 

How many negative e-mails have you noticed at work?  Some people might claim to not have the time to really think about what they write in an e-mail (which would be a little irresponsible—especially in a work setting where communication is so important).  But this seems to be a common line of thought due to the nature of e-mail. E-mail is all about fast communication, but it should also be about effective communication.  Even when we are trying to be positive, e-mails can come out sounding wrong.  Chief executive and co-founder of Lymbix, Matt Eldridge, was having a problem writing e-mails in the tone he was trying to convey. Instead of sounding excited, for example, he sounded pushy. So Eldridge went on a search for a solution.

Eldridge's company, Lymbix, created a new program called ToneCheck. ToneCheck identifies the phrases and words in an e-mail that give off a negative tone. Currently ToneCheck is only available for Microsoft Outlook, but is in development to be used on other e-mail providers, such as Hotmail and Gmail. Businesses can purchase ToneCheck and create a company tone threshold, resulting in employees communicating (at least via e-mail) in a more positive light. This product could be perfect for fast-paced people. It could help people to slow down and really think about what they write. Maybe that's the key to effective communication: just slow down and think about what you say. I myself get rushed and could probably benefit from this tool at work. How about you?

Curt Finch is the CEO of Journyx.  Learn more about improving corporate culture through his PM Blog.

Last updated: Mar 25, 2011




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