It's one thing when you're communicating face-to-face. When someone's "taking a tone" with you, it's usually pretty obvious. Take the conversation to the realm of the written word, though, and suddenly there's more than enough room for interpretation.
As a novelist, it's tricky enough to make sure a character's tone matches the intention. I remember I once had a reader of one of my early manuscripts say, "Man, he's being a little harsh." I looked at the line of dialogue, mystified. Then I realized my reader (a teenager) was assuming a sarcastic tone for the brief statement. Not at all what I intended.
Did I tell her she was wrong and skip happily on my way? Nope. I adjusted the line and the information surrounding it so the intended tone came across more clearly.
Real-time conversations by text can be so much worse if we're not careful. That's why emoticons were invented, right? To give an extra cue of whether we're teasing or annoyed or uncertain? (I don't know if that's true, but it sounds good, and it's why I use them.)
What if one of our online compadres says, "Hey, on that post over there, you're coming across kind of (insert undesirable trait)"? Do we say, "That's not what I meant at all," and continue on without changing? Hopefully not. The fact I know what I meant is irrelevant. How it's taken by those reading is more important.
I may need to adjust my approach in the future, make sure my tone is more clear without the benefit of facial expression, vocal tone, body language, and all the other cues we use in real life. If I learn how to do that, who knows? Maybe it'll make me a better writer in general.
Have you had any experiences with misunderstanding tone or having your own misunderstood? Any tips or tricks for making tone clear in writing?