The art of Tone Policing is rife with benefits and setbacks, in terms of argumentation and effective communication.
Western Society Hosts the Tone Police World Headquarters
Whenever Westerners travel to African or Asian countries, they are surprised or shocked by the outrageous verbosity and emotional nature of the verbal communication among the locals. They are prone to look down on such interactions as being unreasonable, uncivilized, or even deranged.
But once you understand that Western culture nurtures its citizens to have an odd and disingenuous habit of cutting all emotional overtones out of verbal communication, then Africans and Asians might not seem so maniacal after all.
This overreliance on logic and dignity is a blind spot that best exemplifies itself in the ego state of an individual, which is often employed (and sometimes abused) as a heavy weight tool used in monitoring and controlling the behaviors of others.
The Pseudo-Moral Force of the Ego (as used in Tone Policing)
Western literature and entertainment commonly showcases the ego as a pridefully sinful and annoying human quality to have – an Achilles heel of the human psyche.
But this is merely an endemic expression of false modesty.
This showcasing of the ego is an embodiment of Christianity, garnished around the trope of unmerited favor and redemption.
From this arises the adherence of Anglo-European culture to a Righteousness vs. Guilt ethical system. As such, one’s state of righteousness (or guilt) is often socially communicated through the ego.
Make no mistake, despite the widespread incrimination of the ego, Western culture worships those with a robust ego, and rewards those with the will and finesse to brandish their ego fearlessly in the pursuit of their desire.
On the flip side, “bad guys” often get the impression that people with a strong, healthy ego are proud and arrogant. But this is merely Psychological Projection.
Morally decrepit people usually appear to have a weak ego, and consequently, those with a weak ego are commonly assumed to be bad people, especially those who cling to principles and “rules” as a false front of righteousness.
Truly, having a stronger ego makes it easier to express one’s self, as it allows one to talk about one’s thoughts and feelings more directly and more authentically.
Having a healthy, well balanced ego enables one to showcase more confidence and gives one the power needed to create one’s own happiness.
Having a stronger ego will reduce one’s perceived need for satisfaction and gratification.
Having a vibrant ego brings relationship satisfaction on its own terms.
In this way, a healthy ego keeps one happy, in control, and out of trouble.
As a result, having a robust ego gives one the power to inject one’s self into a situation and have an impact on other people, and it is easier to get what one wants out of an interaction.
Characteristics of Tone Policing
Tone Policing cannot be contained in any one simple action, but may encompass many forms of verbal and non-verbal exchanges.
Basically, Tone Policing suggests that people should distance themselves from their own emotions of anger, frustration, or fear, in order to be heard. But these emotions are often a central part of the issue, and should not be neglected.
Tone Policing can put a heavy damper on expressing the truth, including the subjective truth of emotional expression, and the factual truth of raw, ugly reality.
- It is a manifestation of the Western Aristotelian epistemology, coupled with the Righteousness vs. Guilt ethical structure.
- It transforms the dialogue into a style of formalized debate.
- It allows the Tone Police to define the terms and conditions in which the conversation is held.
- It assumes a manufactured binary condition, that emotion and reason cannot coexist, and that reasonable discussions should not involve emotions.
- It exercises control over a conversation by managing the uncontrollable emotions involved.
- It assumes that emotional expression curbs the logical process and hampers finding a solution.
- It assumes that the outcome of the discussion will be one of mutual agreement, which may or may not be an acceptable outcome.
- It can be used to avoid difficult or uncomfortable topics.
- It suggests that people should distance themselves from their own emotions of anger, frustration, or fear, in order to be heard.
- It forbids an authentic emotional expression of communication, which is necessary to establish a true form of bonding.
- It derails a discussion by critiquing the emotional undertones of the message, rather than the message itself.
- It is often used to denigrate or dismiss the emotional person as being disrespectful or uncivil.
- It can be used as a silencing tactic.
As you may see, the art of Tone Policing is rife with benefits and setbacks, in terms of argumentation and effective communication.
All Political Correctness is a form of Tone Policing, and both Conservatives and the Left are guilty for using Tone Policing to dismiss opposing arguments.
How to Properly Tone Police your Neighbor
In summary of the previous section, Tone Policing can be used to either strengthen your position, or undermine your opponent, and it can be used for arguing either honestly or dishonestly.
The pseudo-moral force of the ego is utilized as a key component of applied Tone Policing. We might even think of Tone Policing as an arm of the ego. As such, Tone Policing is a two edged sword, and the cutting edge is determined by the motivations of the individual.
The goal of Tone Policing is to handle every sort of person with dexterity and finesse, and to scope out friends, allies, and enemies.
The purpose of Tone Policing is to monitor and control your social interactions so as to keep things upbeat and humming smoothly.
The art of Tone Policing involves employing your own ego to lock horns with the egos of others, ideally to find a mutually fulfilling adjustment for all involved. This requires discernment, wits, emotion work, and personal refinement. Iron sharpens iron!
Case Study 1: Handling a Bully
People frequently use an overbearing ego to sway other people to always do his/her bidding, without any consideration of the needs of others. In this case, his/her ego devolves into a blundering stick. This behavior is often accompanied by displays of physical intimidation.
Tone Policing may help such a person to become aware of their super-ego, and teach them to use it to control their ego. Once the element of egotisticality is removed from their ego, they may grow to enjoy hanging around people who are very reasonable and rational, because the super-egos of such people can influence their life for the better.
Case Study 2: Handling a Proud @$$
If you’re dealing with a spoiled, proud @$$, who thinks he/she can use anger and shame tactics to bully their way through an argument and do or get whatever he/she wants, then Tone Policing can reign them in to some extent, by cutting their ego out of the argument, and requiring them to deal with you as a real person. Tone Policing this type of person on a regular basis, and not tolerating boisterous emotions, nor giving into their demands, can help that person’s ego grow to be more balanced and healthy.
Case Study 3: Handling a Low-Class Braggart
If you’re dealing with a brash, egotistical person, who tramples on the opinions of others, who lacks common courtesies in conversation, and you’re not willing to be that raw with them, then Tone Policing can be used to establish emotional boundaries which can be helpful in controlling and maintaining the relationship. Be prepared for criticisms like, “Stop being my Mom!” But after a while, they’ll understand that they can’t be that way around you, and (hopefully) they’ll let it go.
Case Study 4: Handling an Honest but Overconfident Ego
If you’re dealing with a person who is generally good natured and reasonable, but who has an over-inflated ego that makes them difficult to get along with, then it is counterproductive to try harnessing his/her ego through Tone Policing. In this case, one may find better results through ascertaining an area of mutual respect and appreciation, preferably one which is the source of his/her excessive pride, and engaging in some friendly competition. In this case, the challenge of the competition is what will humble the person and fine tune their ego state.
For all of the above cases, once the overgrown unruly ego has been successfully tamed, the relationship may have a chance to grow past merely being a superficial interaction of power games and chest thumping.
After a modicum of trust has been formed, then you may prefer that the thumb screws of Tone Policing be loosened up to allow a more honest and authentic style of communication.
- Σ Frame: Political Correctness is Personality Castigation! (2007 January 5)
- Σ Frame: Why Political Correctness won’t solve Racism (2016 September 7)
- Σ Frame: A Brother is Borne Out of Adversity (2018 June 10)
- An excellent description of identifying and modifying the ego state can be found at Do What’s Right: Pastoral Psychology and the Heart 02 (2018 December 28)
- Σ Frame: The Tone Police – to protect and serve the rabble (2019 January 12)
- A recent post from X-Splat, When a good pump hypes you up into narcissist mode (2019 May 28), describes at least three cases of effective Tone Policing.