Feb 28, 2016 - Communication    2 Comments


WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE? My girls, Emma Grace and Ella, will often say that when my brother or my brother-in-law come through the door.  It drives me nuts because it’s not said with a friendly sound of delight.  Rather, it sounds somewhat rude to me imagewhen these little kids are questioning an adult.  In thinking about this, I have discovered something new about language and the importance of how the proper tone  usage in our everyday conversations can make all the difference in the world . It’s really not tone usage that is new to me.  It’s the understanding of how tone can be missed used or abused.  I remember growing up as a child hearing my grandmother say, “Don’t you use that tone with me boy!  I brought you into this world and I can take you out.”  That was grandma’s way of saying don’t be disrespectful and I was headed for a good old fashion spanking.  Grandma, known as Miss Annie, raised me with all the love a mother could give and then some.  I learned from her that you are always to respect your elders whether they were relate to you or not.  You were always to be respectful and raising your voice as a child to an adult was a BIG No, No.


In our American culture your tone can set the pace and mood for a conversation.  Use the wrong tone and your conversation can end up going South real fast; leaving people with the wrong  impression or leaving them not fully understanding what you’re trying to say.  Here is an example of what I’m talking about … I was at church one Sunday morning helping with the folding of our church bulletins.  I looked across from me and noticed an elder Chinese brother in the Lord folding the sheets of paper with precision, speed and ease.  He was getting the job done faster then all of us.  So I asked the pastor’s daughter, who was sitting next to me, if she would tell me how to say, “You are fast, in Chinese.  The Manderin word for fast is Kuai.  But saying this word using the wrong tone and the word means strange.  Well of course I used the wrong tone and in return got the strangest look from my brother, who didn’t speak very much English.  As The Lord would have it, thankfully, another Chinese brother stepped in and recused me by interpreting what I meant.


The reason that I am writing this post and sharing this with you is because I realized that there are many times we can encounter mixed messages due to the tone of our conversation.  I also have to assume some responsibility especially when it concerns my own wife and children.  I noticed that adults can stay certain things with certain tones that don’t come across as rude or disrespectful, for example, “WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?”  Now, if one of my daughters said the same thing to me instead of “Sorry daddy I don’t understand, could you please explain that?”  I could find myself easily getting offended.  We often forget that our children listen to our every word and repeat what they hear us say.  As parents we are responsible for training our children on how to properly conduct themselves at home and away.  We are not to assume that they will automatically learn it.  For this reason my wife and I are now making an effort to be more aware of the tone of our conversations.  We are also taking the needed steps and time to correct and not scold our girls unnecessarily.  Easier said than done – I know.  Here are some Bible verses that I am incorporating into my daily life to help me.


A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of fools pour out folly.


Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.


Let no corruption talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

JAMES 1:19-20

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

These scriptures not only address the tone of how our conversations should be, they also address the very issues of the heart of a person.  See which of these that you need to address in your life and pray and ask Jesus to help you overcome the area that you’re most weak in.  Leave a comment and let us know how what you are working on and how we can pray for you!


  • Brother Wade, you give a useful reminder in the truth and tone of this post. I use the “what are you talking about?” with bad tone too much and I shall strike it for better, more sensitive and “dove-like” (Mt.10:16) way. “Speak the truth in love”(Eph.4:15) is said so many times with assumption I /we are allowing the truth and love to have their way with me/us like Jesus Christ lived and showed.

    Def. “tone”

    1. a musical or vocal sound with reference to its pitch, quality, and strength.

    2. the general character or attitude of a place, piece of writing, situation, etc.

    (in some languages, such as Chinese) a particular pitch pattern on a syllable used to make semantic distinctions.

  • Demetrious thank you, you’re always a source of great encouragement.


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