people say my tone sounds mean

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HR / General 13 Views 0

In today’s Ask a Manager podcast, I talked to someone who’s worried her tone sounds mean. Here’s the letter:

I really appreciated your episode about tone and I was just listening to it again today because I’ve realized that *I* am the coworker who is too direct and makes people feel defensive.

This problem has emerged over the last year, when I learned from my boss that a colleague says I’m hostile and mean. My boss and I talked about this, and a specific example that had occurred months before, and I agreed with her that I could have handled that situation differently. We also agreed that I’m a direct person, which can be productive and can sometimes create conflict.

After that, I started to think really carefully about my tone, and I’ve been practicing being non-confrontational. I loved your examples of tone and have tried hard to consciously incorporate some of the phrases that you demonstrated.

Unfortunately, I keep stepping in it with this one colleague, who in turn complains about me to our boss. We never discuss this directly—I presume because I am too confrontational—I just hear about it later. And now, every time I need to talk with this colleague about

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