Tone; Mode; Mood – Some thoughts about Interactions and Morale

I recently spoke to a person who works at a small-to-mid-size company. There is a bit of transition going on within the company. And a sense of unease, maybe even uncertainty, seems to be felt by some/many, throughout the workplace.

And I thought of some pretty “subjective’ realities. Maybe not the kind that are easily measurable. But still, very real. I kind of think of these as issues of:


Take tone: sometimes, maybe all of the time, the tone that comes across is as important as the actual words that are spoken. I tell my speech students that there are numerous potential tones to take when communicating:

  • serious
  • urgent
  • casual
  • funny/witty
  • always engaging
  • cool (vs. hot/vs. angry)
  • emotional
  • almost always conversational

And then I thought of interactional modes, like:

  • confrontational
  • combative
  • defensive
  • conciliatory
  • co-operative
  • problem-solving

And my guess is that the confrontational and combative modes, and probably the defensive mode, are pretty clear warning signals.

And the tone taken in interactions, and the mode with which these interactions are approached, create a mood within a workplace.

We could come up with specific moods, but they all result in either higher morale or lower morale. We read about such in the area of employee high moraleengagement – highly engaged employees have good, useful, productive interactions, seemingly cooperative in nature, resulting in an “I’m glad I work here, with these people, doing something that matters” high morale.

My guess is that we can tell a lot about the morale of a place by simply observing the tone, and mode, and mood, in the normal, day-to-day interactions.

And, by the way, this is something you have a lot of control over, regardless of what you do within a company. Avoid the negative tones and modes; aim for positive and productive ones. Literally listen to yourself talk, and examine your own body language. Getting along with people and having the right tone will help build higher morale. And higher morale is a very good thing to help build.


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