Emoticons or Begone? (Business Writing Tip for Thought)

Emoticons in Business Communication?  or 

WhatsApp, Texting, Messenger and many other tools are replacing Email, phone and face-to-face conversations in personal communication. This has made way for the increased use of emoticons in communication so that people interpret messages correctly.  It begs the question: should we use emoticons in our written business dialogue?

During a recent trip to Europe I was shocked and later impressed to find out that it’s becoming quite common for some to use emoticons in business communication. Why impressed? Well, as we all know, 90% of communication is non-verbal and emoticons do help to enable expression of the non-verbal. Emoticons potentially could lead to greater communication efficiency.

The focus on personal efficiency is paramount nowadays and as a result, we rely more on written communication than we ever have. Increased use of the written word presents its own challenges in respect to how the receiver interprets our message.

For example, have you ever had a text argument? Who wins? The use of Email can actually waste time, increase conflict, erode trust and make us more unproductive. To reduce this possibility, we must be extra careful in our wording so that the other party is crystal clear on our intent. At times, writing an Email is like walking on eggshells. You have to be careful not to illicit any ‘noise’ beyond the intent of the message. This can take valuable time.

Most of us are feeling our lives are becoming more hectic and stressful. Why?

Miscommunication and over-communication could be a key reason why this trend is on the rise. We are all busy and communicating can be time consuming. As such, effective communication has become more important than ever due to the impact of our words on others and our increasing reliance on typing versus telling.

Pictures say a thousand words and many of us tend to be very visual. I would advocate that using emoticons provides clarity, tone, emotional connection and can even express a story in our communication – which are all things great influencers do in expressing themselves effectively! It can help build relatedness and relationship so that messages are not taken the wrong way.

Emoticons may not be perceived as the most professional way of communicating, but they can provide clarity in how a message is relayed and interpreted. Emoticons may need to be something we start embracing to reduce the risks of  ,  and .

For most of us, communications are always intended to be positive and generate  and . I hope you give it some thought and consider if it may aid your communication effectiveness.

(The demand for Kwela’s Write to Be Read skills workshop has been on the rise – it provides great tips and guidance to help cut through the ‘noise’ and communicate clearly and effectively.)

Glen Sollors, Senior Consultant