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Emotional tonality

Emotional tonality

emotional tonality

While being in a relationship, we go through many emotions; these emotions produce brain chemicals that affect the way we feel. Sometimes we feel positive, other times we have a neutral opinion, and sometimes we do have negative thoughts too, not only about our partners but also about ourselves. In a relationship, trust is a must. When you are anxious about something and share it with your partner, his support builds trust in that relationship. But if your partner is unsupportive about things you value, you become less communicative about sharing your emotions. This can damage your relationship. Another thing that affects your relationship is emotional tonality. It is about how your mental state is affecting your thoughts and your actions.

This article is all about emotional tonality, how it affects your relationships and how you can improve it. So, let’s get started:

What does emotional tone mean?

what does emotional tone mean

Before moving forward, let me explain what does emotional tone mean; here is dictionary meaning for you and its synonyms:

Emotional tone: The mental state (pleasure, repugnance, etc.) accompanies every act or thought.

Synonyms: affective tone, feeling tone, affectivity

Emotional tonality definition

emotional tonality definition

Here is the emotional tonality definition for you so that you can have a clear concept about it:

“Emotional tone shows a particular feeling, it can be serious, joyful, sad, humorous, formal, threatening, etc etc. Your emotional tone will reflect your mood. Simply we can say that how you feel or how your emotional state is will appear in your mood and your behavior.”

Types of tonality

types of tonality


In the 1970s, Paul Eckman, a psychologist, identified six basic emotions experienced in all human cultures. There are different types of emotional tonality. Tonality is divided into two main groups:

Major tonality

Major tonality usually involves positive emotions like content and happiness.

What mood does a major tonality reflect?

what mood does a major tonality reflect

Major tonality involves a happy mood when a person is very cheerful and wants to enjoy life. His or her mood is good, it also appears confident to everyone.

Minor tonality

Minor tonality involves negative emotions like stress, grief, sadness, etc.

What tonality is associated with sadness or anger?

what tonality is associated with sadness or anger

What tonality is associated with sadness or anger? As mentioned above, minor tonality involves negative emotions; anger or sadness are negative emotions, so they fall under the category of minor tonality.

How we react or talk is based on what we feel, choices, and perceptions; we have everything dependent on our emotions. Let’s look at some types of emotional tonality based on some basic emotions we all feel. But keep in mind that these are a few of the most basic emotions while research in 2017 has shown that there are at least 27 different types of emotions that fall under the category of “basic emotions”:



Happiness is defined as a pleasant mental and emotional state characterized by feelings of joy, satisfaction, contentment, and gratification. Among different types of emotional tones, happiness is one that we all are looking for in our partner. Here is how this tone is expressed:

Body language: a relaxed stance

Facial expression: like smiling

Voice tone: a pleasant, upbeat way of speaking

Happiness emotional tone appears when you feel content in life; for instance, you are happy in your relationship, have a promotion at your office, or have made your loved ones proud by achieving something extraordinary.


Sadness is another emotion characterized by feelings of grief, disinterest, dampened mood, hopelessness, and disappointment. Sadness emotional tone will appear in your behavior when you have lost someone, failed an exam, or when something bad happens in your life.

Body language: appear drained, dampened the mood.

Facial expression: May cry, look sad

Voice tone: dull tone, quietness

The severity of sadness emotional tone can vary from person to person; it also depends on what is the cause of sadness. Sadness emotional tone in some people may appear very clearly but, in some cases, people use coping mechanisms to suppress it like avoiding others, ruminating on negative thoughts, or self-medicating.


Fear is one of the most powerful emotions that can also help in survival. When you face some kind of danger and feel fear, you have to show a fight or flight response. Fear emotional tone is strongly associated with the time of stress, like when you fear the death of a loved one, or you fear you will get fired from your job because of something. At that time, your muscles get tensed, your mind is more alert you decide whether you want to fight this danger or are going to run away from it.

Facial expression: widening eyes, pulling back chin

Body language: sweating, shivering, attempt to hide

Voice tone: depending on the person’s voice, tone can be high or low, with shivering

Not everyone experiences fear in the same way, so the emotional tone in case of fear will also be different for different people.


Another emotion that can affect your behavior is disgust. The sense of disgust can arise from various things, for instance, unpleasant sight, smell, or taste. Disgust is a typical reaction when a person tastes something that has gone bad. Infection, poor hygiene, blood, death, or rot can also trigger a disgust emotional tone.

Facial expressions: curling upper lip, wrinkling nose

Physical reaction: retching or vomiting

Body language: turning away from the thing that disgust you


Anger is a very popular emotion that involves a feeling of agitation, frustration, antagonism, and hostility towards others. For instance, anger, fear can play a role in fight and flight response. Usually, anger is considered one of the most negative among negative emotional tonality; sometimes, it can be a good thing. It can help you clarify your needs in your relationships or workplace, and it can also motivate you to take action against wrong things and find a solution to the factors that are bothering you.

It becomes a problem when someone expresses his anger in  an unhealthy, harmful, or dangerous ways to others. If not controlled at a time, it can turn into violence, aggression, or abuse.

Facial expressions: glaring or frowning

Body language: turning away or taking a strong stance

Voice tone: yelling or speaking gruffly


One of the other basic emotional tonalities is surprise. Usually, it is quite brief and involves a startle response when something unexpected happens. This is a kind of emotion that can be neutral, negative, or positive. For instance, an unpleasant surprise maybe someone you do not like appears out of nowhere and pulls you from behind. And a good surprise will be getting back home where your dearest friends have planned a surprise birthday party.

What is an example of emotional tonality?

What is an example of emotional tonality? Let me share some emotional tonality examples with you:

Most emotional tonality

most emotional tonality

Here are the most emotional tonality examples in writing:

In Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White, although the book is sad, the tone is one of peace and acceptance.

“But I feel peaceful. Your success in the ring this morning was, to a small degree, my success. Your future is assured. You will live, secure and safe, Wilbur. Nothing can harm you now. These autumn days will shorten and grow cold. The leaves will shake loose from the trees and fall. Christmas will come, and the snows of winter. You will live to enjoy the beauty of the frozen world, for you mean a great deal to Zuckerman and he will not harm you, ever. Winter will pass, the days will lengthen, the ice will melt in the pasture pond. The song sparrow will return and sing, the frogs will awake, the warm wind will blow again. All these sights and sounds and smells will be yours to enjoy, Wilbur-this lovely world, these precious days ….”

Consider the tone of The School by Donald Barthelme. Words like “death” and “depressing” set a negative or unhappy tone.

“And the trees all died. They were orange trees. I don’t know why they died, they just died. Something wrong with the soil possibly or maybe the stuff we got from the nursery wasn’t the best. We complained about it. So we’ve got thirty kids there, each kid had his or her own little tree to plant and we’ve got these thirty dead trees. All these kids looking at these little brown sticks, it was depressing.”

In the following excerpt from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” notice the many adjectives and verbs that imply insane, nervous and guilty tones.

“It was a low, dull, quick sound — much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I gasped for breath — and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly — more vehemently; but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key and with violent gesticulations; but the noise steadily increased. Why would they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men — but the noise steadily increased. Oh God! what could I do? I foamed — I raved — I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder — louder — louder!”

In A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, the tone could be said to be mysterious, secretive, ominous, or evil through the use of words like “clammy,” “followed,” and “unwholesome.”

“There was a steaming mist in all the hollows, and it had roamed in its forlornness up the hill, like an evil spirit, seeking rest and finding none. A clammy and intensely cold mist, it made its slow way through the air in ripples that visibly followed and overspread one another, as the waves of an unwholesome sea might do. It was dense enough to shut out everything from the light of the coach-lamps but these its own workings, and a few yards of road; and the reek of the labouring horses steamed into it, as if they had made it all.”

A casual tone is more laid back and relaxed. It’s like talking to a friend. You can see this at work in this original example.

“The way I look at it, someone needs to start doing something about disease. What’s the big deal? People are dying. But the average person doesn’t think twice about it until it affects them. Or someone they know.”

A formal tone makes you want to straighten your back and stand at attention. It reminds you of the tone you might use with a superior or at work.

“There was a delay in the start of project, attributable to circumstances beyond the control of all relevant parties. Progress came to a standstill, and no one was prepared to undertake the assessment of the problem and determination of the solution.”

Major tonality example

major tonality example

Here are major tonality examples:

In Hemingway’s A Clean, Well-Lighted Place, the tone is calm and peaceful.

“It was very late and everyone had left the cafe except an old man who sat in the shadow the leaves of the tree made against the electric light. In the day time the street was dusty, but at night the dew settled the dust and the old man liked to sit late because he was deaf and now at night it was quiet and he felt the difference.”

In A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean, the loss is addressed with acceptance. The tone is wistful yet peaceful and moving towards acceptance.

“This was the last fish we were ever to see Paul catch. My father and I talked about this moment several times later, and whatever our other feelings, we always felt it fitting that, when we saw him catch his last fish, we never saw the fish but only the artistry of the fisherman.”

Emotional prosody examples

emotional prosody examples

Emotional prosody examples, also known as effective prosody, is various non-verbal linguistic aspects that people help in conveying or understanding emotions. It includes a person’s tone of voice in a speech that is delivered via changes in timbre, loudness, pauses, speech rate, and pitch. You can isolate it from semantic information and interacts with verbal content or instance, sarcasm.

In the speech, emotional prosody is decoded or perceived worse as compared to facial expressions, but its accuracy varies with emotions. Sadness and anger are most easily perceived, followed by happiness, and fear and disgust is being perceived poorly. It is stated that:

Emotional states, for example, anger, sadness, disgust, and happiness, can be determined based on non-linguistic speech act acoustic structure. These acts can be exclamations, sighs, grunts etc., etc. Non-linguistic acts are universal, as suggested by some researches.

How emotional tonality affects relationships?

Just like our emotions, our relationships are very important. We want our relationships to be successful, and most of us are looking for lifelong relationships. But we need to understand that relationships are not easy to handle; they require continuous effort and consistency. Our emotions can affect our relationships too. These effects can be positive and negative, so we need to control our emotions, especially negative ones, so they might not prove dangerous for our relationships. Let’s discuss how emotional tonality can affect our relationships, and then we will discuss how we can control our emotions:

An emotional tone says much more than just words.

Dr. Gottman, In his book, The Relationship Cure, uncovers that when we talk about assessing the situation, just 7% of meaning comes from the expressed word; on the other hand, 38% comes from the manner of speaking and speech pattern. Words that might appear to be neutral can become combustible whenever spoken with a mocking, disrespectful or contemptuous manner of speaking, making the audience feel hurt and disrespected. So, if you do not watch your tone while talking to your partner, your relationship is in danger.

How you can express your emotions in a relationship?

We have talked about how emotional tone can affect your relationships; now, let’s look at the best possible way to express your emotions in a relationship.

Acknowledge Your Feelings

Acknowledge that emotions are neither right nor wrong. Instead, it is your behavior that as a result of your emotions that is judged morally. For instance, since you are extremely angry, you don’t reserve the privilege to act viciously. Managing negative emotions implies tolerating them without allowing them to overwhelm us.

Explain Your Feelings

Explain your feelings by saying them in front of a mirror or writing it. Think about how you can help your partner showing empathy towards you or how he or she can understand what you are going through.   In case you’re struggling to track down the right words, recall that most emotions can be summarized in a single word, for instance:

  • Embarrassed
  • Angry
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Attacked
  • Hurt
  • Scared


In case you are not somebody who is comfortable with sharing emotions, this might feel weird or awkward from the beginning. Rehearsing it in little steps will make it simpler. For instance, start by saying loudly, “I feel sad,” or “I feel miserable.”

Differentiate your thoughts, feelings, and mood

It’s imperative not to mistake feelings with your thoughts or mood. Feelings can change quickly; they will come and go; on the other hand, the mood is something sustained period of emotional state. Emotions pass on our feelings (and are said to come “from the heart”) while thoughts happen in our minds and pass on our opinion just as our beliefs. Emotions can likewise be actual sensations.

Another approach to assist you with recognizing your thoughts from your emotions is to utilize the “I think versus I feel” rule. If you can substitute the words “I think” for “I feel” in a sentence, then, at that point, you have offered a thought, not an emotion. For instance, “I feel hurt” is right since you would not say “I think hurt,” correct? Though an explanation like “I feel that he is a jerk” is inaccurate. You “think” he is a jerk.

Stay away from Judgment.

Attempt not to pass judgment on your own or your partner’s sentiments. Assuming you need your partner to keep on sharing on a deeper level, it is significant not to get aggravated or defensive about the emotions to you. Moreover, dismissing an emotion is dismissing the person feeling it. Try not to make statements like “Relax, be glad” or “You shouldn’t have that impression.” Doing so nullifies how the other individual feels.


Express sentiments with your partner straightforwardly. Your partner can’t guess what you might be thinking. While they might get on your vibe, they have no real way to know what’s happening in your mind except if you tell them.

While expressing your emotions, share your underlying deeper feelings, not simply surface feelings. You may be communicating outrage yet under feel hurt or humiliated. This is considerably more critical to communicate with your partner to develop intimacy and closeness.

Share on a daily basis.

You don’t have to do deep, genuine discussions about your relationship every day, except you need to share your emotions, not just your thoughts about what is new with you every day. Saying that you were “late for an important meeting” gives the basic information. In any case, saying you “feel humiliated about being late for an important meeting” will prove helpful in connecting with the other person you are talking to.

While you should share feelings every day, try not to make important decisions based on these emotions. Feelings will be a part of the whole process, but you need to think rationally and logically.


Our emotions have a strong impact on our behavior. How we feel appears in our actions. For instance, if we are sad, we do not feel like talking to anyone and prefer to be alone. And when we are happy, we talk to others in a cheerful way we feel livelier. Our emotional tone determines how we deal with others. If our emotional tone is positive, we will spread positivity, and if our emotional tone is negative, unfortunately, we will be carrying negative energy wherever we go. This will affect our relationships too. So, creating a happy and positive emotional tone is what you need in life to be successful in your personal, social, and work life.

So, this was all about emotional tonality; I have tried my best to share useful information with you hope you will find it helpful. BOOK COUPLES THERAPY.

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