Tone rangers: Be certain that your e-mails do not offend, inveigle or obfuscate
How many times have you heard someone say, or have said
yourself, some variation of: "I wish there was a sarcasm font?"
Have you ever been regretful of hitting 'send,' because you thought
your words might come off harsher than your intention? How many
times have you sent an e-mail, the tone of which was
actually misinterpreted? When, in your course of a busier
day, you're dashing off e-mail after e-mail, wouldn't it be nice to
gain some perspective on what you might sound like to
a free e-mail add-on (presently for Outlook, GMail and Lotus Notes), offers a measure of insight. Once
installed, ToneCheck adds a 'Tone Alert' bar to the bottom
right-hand corner of your draft e-mail messages: white represents a
neutral tone; red represents a hostile tone. Below the 'Tone Alert'
bar appears a listing of those phrases used that might illicit, in
the reader of your e-mail, negative emotions. ToneCheck reviews
e-mail draft text across 200+ 'negative' emotions, but allows you
to set tolerance levels and to create customized 'ignore' lists.
Roaming profiles and 256 bit SSL security means that you can get
your message drafts reviewed safely and securely from wherever you
are. TechCrunch has called ToneCheck "an emotional spell-check application;" and,
while it's not quite that (it doesn't offer suggested
replacements), the description is mostly apt in defining what it is
that ToneCheck can do for you.
Of course, there are things that you can do on your own, to check
yourself, in combination with, or in lieu of, the regular use of a
program that reads your e-mails for you -- things like the
- You can, and should, re-read/proofread each of your e-mails
before you send them out, as you would any other documents that you
submit to clients. If it's a particularly important, or complex
message, ask a colleague to review it, as well.
- Don't send angry messages. If you must write in anger, wait an
hour, or several, or a day, before you send the e-mail. Chances
are, you won't send it at all.
- Run traditional spellcheck on all of your outgoing
- Respond completely to messages. Don't skim received messages,
and compose and send a half-reply, that does not address matters
fully. Incomplete responses require additional follow-up, frustrate
the recipient and reflect negatively on your capacity for paying
attention to detail.
- Remember to include attachments, to avoid more unnecessary
follow-up. Here are some great tools to remind you of
when you've promised an attachment.
It's very easy to dash off e-mails, in bunches, and without much
thought; but, the use of appropriate tone, and the application of a
modicum of thoroughness, speaks to your level of
Tip courtesy of Jared Correia, Law Office
Management Assistance Program and Michael Hochman, Legal Talk
Published February 2, 2012
To learn more about the Law Practice Management
Section, which is complimentary for all MBA members,
contact LPM Section Chair Thomas J. Barbar or Vice