Dr. Robin Smith
Have you checked your tone recently—how you're talking to everybody in your life? How do you sound when you're talking to your spouse, children, parents, friends?

Dr. Robin says the tone in your voice can tell people much more than just what you're saying. Maybe you sound grumpy when you're talking to the bank teller. Maybe you sound condescending when you're talking to the grocery clerk. Dr. Robin says if you want to be respected, check your own tone and be respectful.

"Sometimes you wonder why you get a certain result—or why you don't get the results you want; why you're getting attitude," Dr. Robin says. "Maybe you're giving attitude without even knowing it!"

Besides checking your verbal tone, Dr. Robin also cautions to check your tone in e-mail. "Sometimes I get e-mails and I'm thinking as I'm reading them, the tone of the e-mail is not inviting a good response," she says. Perhaps the message was written in all caps and it feels aggressive, Dr. Robin says. "It's not inviting a respectful response. … The tone, the tenor, the flavor—there's a bite in it."

Check your tone, Dr. Robin cautions. Does it sound heavy, disinterested, busy? Maybe it sounds bitter, aggressive or preoccupied.

"When you find out that your tone is kind of funky—it's not genuine, it's not sweet, it has some bitterness in it—just check it," Dr. Robin says. "And the part of it that isn't good—leave it at the door."