top of page

Hey, Watch Your Tone

My mother brooked no nonsense from her kids when she said, “Don’t take that tone with me.” I knew what she meant, but do you know what tone you’re taking in your writing?


If you’re trying to close a sale or ask for an interview, striking the right tone can make all the difference.


As a rule, aim to balance formality with empathy in all your business communications.

Formality means you stay professional while making sure you are connecting with your audience.

Formality can be controlled largely by word choice. Compare these sentences:

  1. Hi, Bill, let me tell you about the new line of pressure cookers we’re putting on the market this fall!

  2. Dear Mr. Snicklefritz, I would like to introduce our new fall product line for your customers.

Sentence A assumes a familiarity with the reader that may not exist. It is safer to assume your audience does not share that same feeling, as sentence B does. Keep in mind that your letter may be read by others than your intended recipient.


If you are empathetic, you make others feel as if you understand and share their experiences and emotions. Consider collection letters, which can become increasingly unempathetic as time goes on with delinquent payers. What begins as “Dear Mrs. Hefflehopper, We regret we have not received the outstanding balance of $5,778 incurred on January 1,” can eventually become “We’ve run out of patience.”


In general, it’s best to stay positive Grammarly’s AI-powered (free) Writing Tone Detector and Tone Suggestions | Grammarly claims to detect over 40 tones in people’s writing. It’s a good resource if you have a tin ear when judging your own tone.


We always stay professional and empathetic at Business Writing That Counts! and invite you to consult with our writers about your tone. Call (425) 485-3221—or else!


Recent Posts
Search By Tags
bottom of page