No. 274

If you have ever heard someone say, “I don’t like your tone of voice” or “you need to tone it down a little”, then you will have some insight into an issue that is becoming more important with the passing of time. These days more and more people seem to have less respect, less civility, less courtesy and less compassion for the rights and feelings of other people. I will just say it up front, this is not good and it’s not the way human beings should treat each other. The good news is that YOU have the power to do something about the sad state of human relations in our nation and the word “tone” has a lot to do with it.
At this point I would like to give you a couple of examples of what I’m talking about and then offer some suggestions that could make a difference for the people who cross your path each day and also for future generations of Americans. The first example happened over fifty years ago and the second just recently. Let me begin by telling you about Dr. Bill Humphrey, a retired college professor and a favorite uncle who lives here in Conway. We are the same age and when we were just kids we spent the night with Great Grandma McAdams who lived near the small community of Pleasant Plains.
With all the company in the house that night, there were more people than beds and Bill and I wound up on a pallet on the living room floor. Soon after the lights were out, we got to talking, giggling and cutting up and the next thing we knew “Granny Mac”, as we called her, got up and got a baseball bat and threatened us with it if we didn’t get quiet. From that moment on you could have heard a pin drop because she made a believer out of us. As I’ve thought about this incident over the years I have come to the conclusion that this was the night that “Grandma” set the tone.
The second example is when a gentleman called me on the telephone from out of state a few weeks ago. He was applying for a top position with our local government and had read one of my columns on the internet. He said he was impressed with it. We visited a few minutes and a week or so later he was coming for a job interview and he called again and wanted to take me to dinner. It was my privilege to accept but before we began our meal I asked if we could have a word of prayer. I did this for two reasons. First, it is my custom to always say a table grace at meal time and also because I wanted to set the tone for the time we spent together. We had a wonderful evening and he wrote me back a few days later and thanked me for the quality time we had.
While there is a great contrast in these two examples I believe you can clearly see how the “tone” was set that was fitting and appropriate for the circumstances. Actually, Bill and I didn’t figure out until much later that “Granny Mac” would not have used the baseball bat on us. In a much larger sense, the “tone” is set by the leader. The president of our country sets the tone. The chief executive of a corporation sets the tone. The coach of a team sets the tone. The minister of a church sets the tone. The head of a family sets the tone.
Here is the point of what I am saying. We can all be leaders when it comes to setting the “tone” as we interact with others and this can make a real difference in our future. First, it’s important to understand that you don’t have to say a prayer or threaten to use a baseball bat. Just let other people know that you stand for truth, honesty, integrity, fairness, justice and always doing the right thing and our country will be headed in the right direction. Incidentally, there were over fifty applicants and he got the job. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)