The long-standing etiquette of professional communication is beginning to change, as the boundaries separating our work and personal lives become more blurred thanks to flexible working practices.
Some will see this as a negative step, devaluing the professional relationships and causing distractions at work. Often a misguided LinkedIn post is met with “THIS ISN’T FACEBOOK!”, for example.
And while it is important to maintain professionalism, trust and integrity in your day job, some movement towards a more personable and human interaction could actually bring surprising benefits.
Emojis or Similes are one tool that, if used properly, can contribute to a more natural conversation flow, better collaborative relationships and deeper understanding of the issues at hand.
Building Better Relationships
Using emoji’s appropriately within business emails and text-based chat can support better relationships by injecting a bit of your character in to the messages.
The choice of emoji, frequency and placement can all provide subtle clues to the reader as to your overall demeanour, and they can easily be added so as not to affect the overall content of the message.
Most people now include emoji’s in their personal messages, so it provides a familiar reference point for the reader, but of-course the beauty of picture-grams is that no explanation is necessary.
Setting the Tone to Avoid Misunderstandings
Text based communication has always suffered from the absence of ‘tone’. It’s easy to misunderstand the meaning behind a sentence that could be read in many different ways, and I’m sure this has been the source of many business relationships souring.
Despite the attempted introduction of a sarcasm/irony symbol, particularly useful in Britain, there isn’t a more effective way to communicate the tone of your message than adding an appropriate emoji.
From cheerful, innocent, non-assuming to urgent, angry and explosive, there’s an emoji for every situation.
Knowing When Not to Use Them
Of course, there are times not to use emoji’s, particularly if you know the recipient is not comfortable with them.
The customer is always right, and you must communicate on their level, even if this means no emojis!
You can easily tell but observing their communication patterns.
- Do they avoid emojis completely?
- Do they only add one at the sign-off to a message?
- Do they scatter them throughout the text?
All provide clues to help you make an appropriate response.
Brand & Emoji Policies
For many organisations, particularly start-ups and younger companies, applying a consistent brand across their organisation is incredibly important.
To achieve this, it can often be beneficial to issue communication guidelines, brand prospectus or a tone-of-voice policy to ensure everyone stays “on message”.
Emoji use could form a part of those policies, but it should also be expanded to consider the clarity of language used – particularly in tech based businesses.
How Does this Relate to Risk Management?
Improving communication between people is always beneficial.
However, in risk management and ISO Management Systems, people can often be a weakness and finding ways to better engage them is a critical success factor.
All Annex SL based ISO standards includes communications section, requiring considerations of: What to Communicate, When, with Whom, by Whom and How.
Consider if there are any aspects of that communication which could be put across clearer or with more character through the use of emojis, while retaining the central message you intended…