When writing, it is fair to say that a tone can be cool or warm. Of course, there are instances where our reader will imply a tone that doesn’t exist. It just happens. You can chalk it up to whatever you wish….bad day, stereotypes, generalizations, and the list continues ad nauseum.
However, if we were to bunch up all the different tones that can be applied they would fall into two main categories. The first category is cool. The second category is warm.
Cool tone is where you separate yourself from the person that receives your communication. You write in an active voice to bring their actions to light; basically, you call it like you see it….but keep it professional. Instead of using words that make the person feel included, you use words that are sharp or that bring about a distinct separation. We’ve all received a cold or nasty email. The goal with cool tone is to create a frigid atmosphere on a professional level. Snark is still not appropriate.
Warm tone is where you draw your reader in to you. This is something you would use in a client letter. You provide a team feeling…instead of writing in the third person by using ‘you’, you would write ‘we’. If you have to address something negative, you do it as kindly as possible.
Remember in Advanced Legal Research and Writing we address the formula of how to make your reader remember certain points. That is just as applicable in general correspondence. For those not in the class, think about a trial. When attorneys speak, what do you remember most? You remember the opening and closing, right? Right.
So here’s the formula.
First sentence(s) address what you want the person to remember. This is where you would put your strongest point that you want to make or the impression you want to last.
In the middle you put the damaging things. Keep it light. Write it in passive voice.
Your last sentence(s) you, again, reiterate the strong points.
Another tip for tackling that difficult or harmful subject matter to your client is to write that part in passive voice. Why? Well, what does passive voice do? It takes away the sting of the action. That’s why it is so important to try and write in active voice in most things. You want things strong and sure. Passive voice sounds weak. See that last sentence? I wrote it in active voice.
Remember that Thursday, March 21, 2013 is Bring A Friend Day on our campus. If you bring someone, feel free to drop by our room and introduce me. I would be happy to answer any questions. I will be on campus until at least one.
Oh…and yes, I do see the page links to wikipedia articles. Do NOT use wikipedia as a source for any paper you turn in to me.