Social Tone

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Social Tone

1. Refers to the more pleasant tone people present to the world. From a young age, most of us are taught to be friendly and polite towards others. Good manners go a long way towards helping us get along in the world. But it’s important to recognize that just because someone seems nice and mannerly that doesn’t mean they have a high tone level. A Social Tone is the facade we use as part of our daily interactions in order to get along in life. It’s a short term tone level used in social interaction.


You are at the coffee shop and the barista asks how you’re doing. Although you feel super stressed because you missed a work deadline and your boss is angry at you, Rather than communicating that to your barista, you say, “Fine, thanks.” And you smile politely. Or let’s say you decide to be a little more honest about. When the barista asks how you’re doing, you say you’re feeling a little stressed due to work, and smile casually when you say it. But you don’t emote about how stressed and give the nitty-gritty details.

Victor has been more depressed than normal. He doesn’t have a job and doesn’t know how he’s going to pay his rent. Today though, he’s heading to a job interview. Rather than tell his potential employer how rough things are and perhaps showing how down he’s feeling, he puts forward a positive, friendly manner in order to make a good impression.

Henrietta’s chronic tone is anger. Because she knows this is not socially acceptable, she tries hard to keep a lid on it. She often mumbles under her breath about things that piss her off. Her workmates think of her as a sweet and happy person because she always says hi and smiles when she walks past them in the hall.

Having a better understanding of people’s emotional tones can help you have better and more meaningful relationships. If you are an auditor, understanding the Tone Scale is invaluable. But remember, people and their lives are complex. It’s best not to jump to conclusions about someone’s chronic tone level.

To learn more about the Tone Scale and how to use it in your life, read Science of Survival and its accompanying Chart of Human Evaluation.

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