How Do You Like This Tone!


There are lots of ways to “set the tone.” Imagine how important this is for a junior high teacher the first two weeks of the school year. (Particularly if she plans to manage the classroom successfully the remainder of the year!) Imagine the role “setting the tone” plays when a new coach is hired. What does he do with those crucial first interactions with his team? There’s no doubt, setting the tone is an important concept we are all familiar with. Today, I want to talk about the tone that sets the tone … stick with me here. I’m talking about the tone of your voice and mine.

I submit that the old saying, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it” is one of the most neglected truths there is. Example: Santa just blessed us this Christmas with a new Lab puppy. (I’m going to get him later for that!) We are currently training Sadie to “sit,” “stay,” and “come,” which she can now execute at nine weeks old. If I give the command to “come” and she runs across the living room to me, it doesn’t matter what I say in terms of vocabulary, as long as I say it in my best, sweetest “love the new puppy so much voice.” To illustrate this “tone” lesson to my kids, I demonstrated this using Sadie. I told her to sit, instructed her to stay, walked across the room, made her wait a good 20 seconds, and said, “Come!” She responded perfectly, and leaped and bounced across the room to me. As she approached, in the kindest, warmest, sweetest, tone I have, I said, “Bad dog! I’d like to pack you up and sell you on eBay tonight, and then I wouldn’t have to worry about buying your expensive food! And by the way, you are UGLY!” My 14- and 12-year-olds were dying laughing. My 7-year-old was baring his teeth at me and headed across the room at a brisk pace, completely committed to a physical confrontation with me (and with the way he was leaning forward, I can guarantee he would have initiated the fight!). What he failed to see was Sadie’s tail going back and forth at warp speed! She was absolutely proud of her performance, happy as could be, and wanted to go again. Thankfully, my eldest stepped in and said, “Zeke, look at her tail!”

We all had a good laugh as we discussed this situation and how, if we were honest, we would acknowledge that we ourselves often accept information to different degrees depending on how it is delivered.

If I walk in the door at my house using a rough, short, angry tone, I will “set” the wrong tone for the remainder of the evening and completely change the dynamic of who says what, to whom, and when … and, in fact, would more than likely stifle a large percentage of communication completely.

Next week, I want to use a great mentor, teacher, and role model for all of us as an example of how gentleness is more powerful than you might have imagined. Until then, enforce it, be consistent, and just say it in love! Remember, you are setting the tone for life!


About Kris Hogan

With a 16-year educational tenure under his belt, Kris Hogan has spent the last nine years working at Grapevine Faith High School in Grapevine, Texas. In addition to sitting on its administrative team, Hogan also pulls double duty as Faith’s head football coach. Hogan also was the subject of Remember Why You Play, a 2008 book by sports columnist and author David Thomas that chronicled the lives, struggles and successes of Coach Hogan and his team. READ MORE→