Attitude, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. (OK. This is not technically accurate. Psychological theory considers attitude a trait of the individual. But it is an accurate way of describing the fact that we attribute attitudes to other people.) We have been attributing attitudes to the woman in Da Vinci’s portrait for 500 years. We mostly use nonverbal cues, like the facial expression in the Mona Lisa, when judging other people’s attitudes. But most of these nonverbal cues are unavailable when judging a writer’s attitude. So we are forced to rely on what is available–the writer’s words. We often call this “tone.”

Pros are in control of the attitude their readers behold in their documents. That means they control their tone. I’m working on a video tutorial designed to help amateurs gain that control. The tutorial refers to a page from a Financial Services Email. It was adapted by me based on one I received as a customer of TIAA-CREF (tiaa-cref.org).

  • Writer: CEO of a financial services company
  • Readers: customers of the company
  • Bottom Line Message: investing with the company is still wise even in the midst of a financial downturn