Prevent Angry or Misunderstood E-mail by Automatically Checking Your Tone

Last Updated Aug 5, 2010 11:40 PM EDT

According to the makers of the new Outlook plug-in called ToneCheck, studies show that tone and language choices cause e-mail messages to be misinterpreted 50% of the time.

I don't know if half of the time is a reasonable number, but the idea that your e-mail can be taken the wrong way due to a poor choice of words certainly has a ring of truth. Indeed, I've sent a few e-mails myself in which my tone overwhelmed the message, resulting in poor communication.

The solution? ToneCheck is an Outlook plugin that acts like a spell checker for the tone and language in your e-mail. The program is currently free while it's in beta, and there are versions for Gmail and other mail clients coming.

You use ToneCheck like a spell checker -- click the ToneCheck button in the Outlook ribbon, and it'll analyze your e-mail and make suggestions about which sentences which have strong emotional components. You don't have to make any changes, of course, it can be handy to know if your mail is likely to offend the recipient.

ToneCheck is an interesting idea, and seems, in my informal testing, to do a reasonable job identifying potentially troublesome language. It's not something I'd use all the time, but is perhaps a good tool to apply when sending stressful e-mail late at night, towards the end of a project, or to especially sensitive business partners. [via TechCrunch]