Amor Towles is the author of two novels; A Gentleman in Moscow as well as the Rules of Civility. I like Rules of Civility but, I love A Gentleman in Moscow. The same author wrote two books, but one book, I found to be more fun and more memorable. Was it the story? Or the characters? Or the tone?
I am not sure, but my best guess is, I am responding to the tone of the story. The Rules of Civility has a sharp edge about it while a Gentleman in Moscow is sweet and funny even when the characters are dealing with harsh challenges. It is not that I want all of the world’s problems sugar-coated but, I could see myself wanting to meet the characters in A Gentleman in Moscow, and I did not feel that way about the other book.
The tone of a message or interaction is nearly impossible to measure quantitatively, so we don’t. We can measure frequency, subject lines, calls to action, and more, but the tone seems too soft to quantify. And because we do not measure it, we typically do not test it.
However, our members, especially new members are highly attuned to our tone. They evaluate it, and they respond to it. It makes them feel warmly welcomed, or it makes them feel nothing at all, or worse.
There is a range of tones available to all us. On one end is an authoritative, institutional tone, think Muppet Sam the Eagle and on the other end is a super happy dog, think Dug the dog, and every possible permutation along that range. We set a tone in emails, letters, phone calls, and even in person.
Spend some time pondering how you want members, and new members to feel when they interact with the association. The answer will be different for every association but, this is worth exploring so that we do not accidentally set a tone that repels the very professionals we are trying to engage.
- We talk about the importance of tone in the New Member Engagement Study
- Setting the tone to help members solve their problems
- How to set a new tone for your association