Use Tone Check To Keep Your Emails Friendly & Free of Rudeness

300300   Use Tone Check To Keep Your Emails Friendly & Free of RudenessIn the heat of the moment anything can happen. Maybe your boss just emailed you to let you know that you have to come in and work on Saturday. Or maybe your girlfriend just dropped you a line to tell you that the dog had an accident all over your side of the bed. You just never know what you might open up your email to find, and you need make sure you prepare your responses accordingly.

Fortunately for all of us short tempered hot heads, there is Tone Check. Think of Tone Check as a spell check for your anger. Maybe you are smart enough to know on your own that telling your boss he has a stupid face is not the best career decision, but if you are not, Tone Check will remind you.

Platforms

Tone Check is available for Microsoft Outlook 2003, 2007, and 2010, as well as IBM Lotus Notes. The version I am using is their Chrome extension with Gmail. As of publication it is only available as an extension for Chrome, but it is in development for Firefox and Safari as well, so keep your eyes peeled for that. The developers have also said they are looking into Apple Mail, and Windows Live Mail as possible platforms for the program in the future.
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Installation

Head over to Tone Check’s official website and choose which version you would like to download. If you choose the Chrome extension you will be taken to the extension download page, click install, restart your browser and go to your Gmail account. Tone Check will alert you that you need to authenticate your account. Simply click the link on the top of your browser window and you will be sent to their site to do so.
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If you opt for Outlook or Lotus Notes, go to their website, choose whether you want to log in with a Google Account or create a new one. Follow the installer step by step, and make sure to close Outlook or Notes during the installation process.
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Once the installer is finished re-open Outlook and log in, either with your Google Account, or with your newly created Tone Check account.

Using the Program

Tone Check works automatically in the background once you have logged in and set up the program. On the bottom of your email there is a little meter that rates the tone. The higher the meter is filled, the worse the program feels about your current tone.
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There are a number of settings in the program to decide exactly how you want Tone Check to handle your emails. You can decide if you want Tone Check to start automatically when you start your email, and once the program is running, whether you want it to check only when you prompt it to, or automatically. My favorite option is the “show more emotions” one, which breaks down the tone even further. For example, in response to a friend, I typed “That is ill” and it told me it was depressing. You can also decide if you want it to alert you before you send a message that it is over the tone tolerance.

There is also a nice slider that allows you to tell the program how sensitive it should be. This would be something you want to adjust depending on the intended audience of the email. They also feature dynamic tolerance, which allows the program to learn how you tend to write over time, and then flag anything that sounds like something you wouldn’t normally say.
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Conclusion

Tone Check is a really an awesome program. If you send a lot of emails I think it is a must have. Sometimes you don’t think about how your emails may come across, and having a program tell you can save a lot of headaches later.

Has Tone Check saved you from calling your boss all kinds of insulting names? Are you such a bad person that the program exploded at your harsh tones? Let us know in the comments! While you are at it, you can also calibrate your responses with the help of 7 Netiquette Guidelines For Writing Emails & Forum Posts.

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3 Comments -

0 votes

klu9

Thanks for this :) I’ll try it with my ESL students (to whom I just gave business e-mail writing class today).

0 votes

Cell Travis

I see a lot of use for this, not just for private email communication but for public messages as well (forums, chats, tweets and so on). If anything, it’s the public domain in which we are more prone to commit a faux pas.

0 votes

Clodius P. Maximus

This might have saved my job if I had it a few years ago. Some of us learned the hard way that an email might come off a little more curt than intended because it lacks the nonverbal cues that are usually employed to soften a message that contains bad news.