Communication,  relationships

Words and feelings

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~Maya Angelou

As the old adage goes, it’s not just what we say that matters — but how we say it. While preparing for an essay workshop I coached last month, I ran across some notes I’d made about the importance of “voice and tone” in our writing. Since most personal essays are conversational, our job as writers is to draw readers into the heart and soul of our stories. We want others to relate to our experiences; we don’t want to alienate them.

The same is true when we’re talking with someone. Our tone of voice carries our intention, and everything we share out loud has a degree of emotional impact on the person who is listening. We shouldn’t underestimate this aspect of communication. How do your words make others feel?

Before you write it — or say it — consider your motivation. What do you hope to achieve with your story? ~CL

Throughout my career, I've worked as a book production editor, travel magazine editor, features writer, and weekly newspaper columnist. My award-winning lifestyles features and essays have appeared in many national magazines and anthologies, including Newsweek, Reader's Digest, The Christian Science Monitor, Writer's Digest, Victoria, Better Homes & Gardens, Bella Grace, and more. My weekly Sunday "Life Lines" column ran for 14 years in The Daily Tribune (Royal Oak, MI) and won a First Place (Local Columns) award from the Michigan Press Association. My essay collection, Writing Home, includes 93 previously published columns and essays focusing on parenthood and family life.

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