This is a term I have been hearing. In my literal mind, I thought it was telling people how to say things or what voice to use. Yeah I have gotten this lot of times from people like my own mother but isn’t that her job? Don’t all parents tell their kids how to express themselves and how to talk and say things and how to handle things? Isn’t that tone policing? What about when you are upset and you are told to calm down or to not yell? Tone policing? What about when I would be having anxiety so I would get told off about it? Tone policing?
But apparently this is not what tone policing is. It’s refusing to listen to other people just because you didn’t like how they say things and it’s also focusing on how they said it.
I have always thought people listen better if they are not insulted or called names or judged and I guess that would be tone policing when I expressed that opinion to my husband. I have noticed over and over that people never get anywhere when they attack someone or insult them or judge them or even bully them and my husband said maybe because their feelings get in the way so it keeps them from being rational. Also people never get anywhere when they accuse them of doing child abuse because then the parent just gets defensive and how does that help?
I remember the time when I was on Babycenter, I saw a thread about a mother who posted a video online with her toddler sitting in the front seat of the car with no car seat and seat belt and the car was obviously moving. There was even a link to the Facebook page where it was posted and it was public. I thought it was very dangerous what she was doing and it was a form of child neglect because she was endangering her child. I would have just told her her kid needed to be in a car seat in the back seat of the car because it’s the law and she can get a ticket for it or have her kid get taken because times have changed. But lot of comments the mother got were hostile and she was being called a child abuser or stupid and the mother was defensive. There were very few nice comments about it where people were able to express their concerns without being all judgmental and hostile. But sadly all those nice comments were too blended in over the mean comments. I thought the mother would listen better if she had a bunch of civil comments than uptight ones that were judging her or calling her a child abuser. But apparently this would be tone policing.
When people go on about tone policing and how it’s BS, it comes off to me as people can bully you all they want and be mean to you all they want and falsely accuse you all they want and it’s your fault if you can’t handle it or not able to process it what they are saying because of the negative tone. If they do it, then you must have deserved it. Doesn’t this sound like victim blaming? How does this even help the situation or the person who is being attacked?
My little brother for example can’t even listen to a word you say if you are yelling at him and you don’t even need to be raising your voice. If you are talking in a way he feels is yelling, all he hears is the yelling and he can’t process the words because it upsets him too much so I guess he was tone policing when he told our mother at 16 how it makes him feel and how all he years is the yelling, not the words. So my mom changed her tone.
I remember when I had my first boyfriend he “tone policed” me when he told me how you shouldn’t raise your voice when someone does something dangerous because it can make it worse. An example would be if someone was driving and they take their eyes off the road and then the car swerves and is head for the ditch so you raise your voice yelling “watch the road watch the road.” A normal reaction would be that gets the person’s attention and they look up and see where they are heading and they jerk back on the road again. But in my ex’s case, he thought it can scare the person and they don’t do anything because all they heard is the screaming so you both run into the ditch anyway because the person didn’t react due to the screaming. I figured in my his case, he does not react to yelling at all in dangerous situations so when you yell to get his attention, he doesn’t listen because all he hears is the screaming, not the words or get gets a shut down because of the scream and he does nothing so hence his tone policing me. Of course lot of us would say it’s too much to ask to expect everyone to remain calm when something dangerous happens like when a kid runs downs the road or towards a pond or when a kid does something stupid with a firework that could have blown their heads off or when someone takes their eyes off the road and the car swerves or when someone is about to go and a car comes and the driver doesn’t see it due to a blind spot and they are moving the car. Of course we would all yell to get their attention because talking in a normal tone of voice will not get their attention quick enough and bam there is a car accident or a dead child. Even Jerry expected people to not yell in these situations. I would say my first ex was exceptional because when you raise your voice when he does something dangerous, he might not hear you because all he would hear is the screaming and shut down and the accident more likely occurs anyway so therefore we would all have to learn to not yell at him if he is about to do something dangerous such as if he is about to run off the road or if there was a ca coming and he was turning onto the road. We would have to learn to control our emotions around him just like police officers.
I have always been defensive. I never took false accusations well or when i get wronged or mistaken. My mom had to learn to approach me a certain way so I am not in the defense and I never once tone policed her because I didn’t even know myself why I reacted the way I do. My mom just had to figure out how to talk to me and communicate and watch her tone of voice also so I wouldn’t think she was mad or think I was being accused. Instead my mom would ask “Did you do X?” and have it be a question than an accusation. Then all I would have to answer is yes or no and it’s over because she would say “okay.” My mom has also asked “You didn’t do this did you?” and I would say yes or no. That was how I grew up. But the funny thing is Jerry claimed to be literal but he wouldn’t take things I say literal if he got offended but he would take petty things literal and nitpick what I would say. I could ask him a question and he would take it personally like I was accusing him. I didn’t say he did it, I only asked because I wanted to know if he did or not since he said he was very honest so I would expect the truth. But of course this could have been one of his narcissistic traits. It didn’t matter what I said, it only mattered how I said it like the time I saw the green water tower so I pointed to it saying “See that green water tower. That was where my third grade teacher lived” and he said “He lived in that water tower?” and I said “No, that was his neighborhood where the water tower is.” he then starts nitpicking what I said and said how I should have said it so I asked him if someone can really live inside a water tower, there is all that water and no windows and he said yes because he has seen it before on TV so i asked him if someone can really live in that green water tower. Here I was trying to show him logic since aspies are known to be logical so he would have asked instead “What do you mean?” because he would have known that it’s not possible to live in a water tower so I couldn’t possibly mean that so they are asking for clarification. Then they go okay and move on instead of nitpicking because they know they are literal. When Jerry asked if he lived in the water tower, I thought that was his way of asking for clarification so I rephrased myself and he then nitpicked my words instead of going “Oh.” But yet he would’t take me literal when he would get offended or upset by what I say because he didn’t take my words literal like the time I asked him if he had broken something in my car while he was working on it. he said no and told me he had discovered it was missing a piece in my fan that makes them move to cool the radiator. The next day he sobs and tells me how it hurt his feelings because I said he had broken it. I told him I didn’t say he did, I only asked and he told me he didn’t so I believe him. Also probably narcissist. Then he called it his social issues when I told him about it. So there he was blaming his narcissistic behavior on “social issues.” I had noticed a pattern in him taking things literal and when he doesn’t take things literal. He only wasn’t literal if he got offended by something and non offensive things he took literal so it makes me think this was all intentional he did or otherwise he would have taken my other words literal and not get offended. I even thought then he was using Asperger’s as an excuse and I was probably right. Always trust your gut feeling. I think his reason for getting “offended” and “insulted” was his way to shut me up and silence me so I couldn’t question him which is typical narcissistic abuse. It’s all about control. This could be another reason why he went silent on me because I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t do what he wanted me to do so he moved on and looked for another supply. He had no way of controlling me and instead I just kept on trying to find other ways to word things without him taking it the wrong way. I just couldn’t give up like other victims would. But face it, none of this works on a narcissistic.
When people falsely accuse me or project or even judge me, I have a harder time listening so I guess I would be tone policing. If the comment is too hostile for me or they are mean about it, I also don’t listen because I see them as being a bully and having issues of their own and I will think they are trying to pick a fight so I ignore them. Just them having a problem and taking it out on me. I do not take this well so I do the opposite what I am supposed to do.
I think it can go both ways. People say it’s ridiculous to expect everyone to be calm when they are upset. Well how about they take a step away and not say anything at all until they are calmed down? Sometimes that is what my mom had to do as a parent. I do something that made her mad so she had to wait until she was calmed down before talking to me about it. You certainly didn’t want to be screaming at your kids whenever you are mad so how is this any different with anyone else? Kids less likely listen when you scream at them so how is it any different when people don’t listen when they get insulted or judged or even called names?
I even talk talking to people online when I didn’t like how they have treated me. I just don’t reply to their posts again because I feel they nitpick or get offended too easily. Even when I was six I would refuse to listen if I was yelled at and my Mom’s brother then thought that was ridiculous and so wrong what I am doing. I have walked away from adults or kids before when they would be raising their voice at me and boy would that piss them off. When my mom would yell at me, I would yell right back. Of course my mom blamed it on my age so she didn’t do anything about my behavior. I just threw it back at them. That was how much it bothered me it was just too much to deal with so it was fight or flight response. My reaction varied of course depending on my mood.
Fuck with tone policing.