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Hi there. I use emoticons occasionally to amplify a message or to provide clarification of my intent.
[b]
If interpersonal communication is predominantly non-verbal, why do some managers dislike emoticons?[/b]

I'm interested to see how many managers use them. As a 27yr old, I kinda caught the tail end of the "LOL/LMAO/BRB" IRC phase but I was wondering if many managers on the dark side of 30yrs use them. This came up as I listened to the Member's Only DISC casts and Mike and Mark shared how much :) and ;) bug them.

Cheers! Mark

itilimp's picture

I use them on the internet and in personal communications all the time to help confirm the intended tone which is missing from the written word.

However, I avoid using them in business communications as I have found in the past that there they are viewed as childish and unprofessional.

Not sure what other's experiences are on this one.

WVH's picture

I'm over 30, and don't use them. They have their place, but just seem to be too cheesy. I don't feel the same way about the text version -- :-), however. Guess that means I'm not being consistent.

WVH

cb_bob's picture

I never use emoticons in business communication.

I am one of the youngest people in my company at 26 years old, so I don't think the use of them has much to do with age.

Email is not a "new" method of communicating. I have always thought of email as simply a "delivery mechanism" for written communication. Somehow, people have been able to communicate in writing without emoticons for centuries.

If you feel the need to use an emoticon, perhaps you should communicate in person rather than via email.

Mark's picture

I use emoticons when I think emoticons will help make my message more clear... which is to say, when the recipient has shown that HE OR SHE USES THEM.

It's a known fact that younger people are more likely to use emoticons, but that doesn't mean that all young people do. As with so many demographics, the application to individuals calls to mind David Ogilvy's comment: "Consumers are statistics; customers are people."

I think someone who NEVER uses them hobbles themselves unnecessarily, and those that ALWAYS use them do the same.

The kernel of value here: what works for your reader/listener?

Mark

cowie165's picture

Guys thank you all for sharing your thoughts. I'll put forward the takeaways to be:

[list]NEVER in official communication
Ok for casual e-mail to convey your tone
If in doubt, wait for someone else to use them first
Use of emoticons is independent of age! :)[/list:u]

Does that sound about right?

[quote]I think someone who NEVER uses them hobbles themselves unnecessarily, and those that ALWAYS use them do the same.[/quote]

Great viewpoint.

Mark

PS Are emoticons a synonym or antonym for swearing(profanity)? One is purely written(typed) however both could be argued as being superfluous expression that highlights poor language skills?

itilimp's picture

[quote="cowie165"]

[list]NEVER in official communication
Ok for casual e-mail to convey your tone
If in doubt, wait for someone else to use them first
Use of emoticons is independent of age! :)[/list:u]

Does that sound about right?[/quote]

I'd say so.

[quote="cowie165"]...both could be argued as being superfluous expression that highlights poor language skills?[/quote]

As my use of them (not in business) is to clarify understanding and tone I don't view emoticons as being 'superfluous expression', quite the opposite. Regarding the poor language skills, I think it is fair to say that in certain circumstances you can say more, faster, using an emoticon than taking the time to choose the words to convey the intended meaning. I'd say this highlights laziness rather than 'poor language skills' ;)

mauzenne's picture

[quote="mahorstman"]The kernel of value here: what works for your reader/listener?[/quote]

And you can figure that out by paying attention to what THEY do. If they use emoticons, it's a fair bet that you can (should?) use them as well.

I don't know if we need to update our podcasts on DiSC to include "emoticon behavior", but given that in email you're missing a plethora of other clues, the use/non-use of emoticons is worth paying attention to.

Mike

cowie165's picture

[quote="itilimp"]
...I think it is fair to say that in certain circumstances you can say more, faster, using an emoticon than taking the time to choose the words to convey the intended meaning. I'd say this highlights laziness rather than 'poor language skills' ;)[/quote]

I can't argue that! Good point. I must admit that I use it out of laziness (efficiency?). Are they a phase or here to stay...?

On the topic of who hits the :) button first, perhaps it is for you to try it with directs (down the chain) but wait for your boss to send you mail with :-) (up the chain)? I have resisted using it with directs but often sit there mid-email, contemplating it.

cowie165's picture

[quote="mauzenne"]
... it's a fair bet that you can (should?) use them as well.
[/quote]

Mike that comment is thought provoking. If you are adjusting how you interact with someone, based on their DISC style, why avoid emoticons?

Mark's picture

I can't believe we're conflating laziness and efficiency here!

Doing something with 3 keystrokes that your keen communicative mind has proven to you will accurately represent what someone else might take 50 for is just smart thinking. That's what managers are paid for!

Pascal said it this way:

"...mes lettres n'avaient pas accoutumé de se suivre
de si près, ni d'être si étendues. Le peu de temps que j'ai eu a été
cause de l'un et de l'autre. Je n'ai fait celle-ci plus longue que
parce que je n'ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte."

And the English (which may do it injustice):

"...my letters have not usually followed so closely,
nor been so long. The small amount of time that I have is the cause of
both. I would not have made this so long except that I do not have the
leisure to make it shorter."

cowie165's picture

Hi Mark.

Ok does this mean that their use is fine (even encouraged?) provided that it does not compromise the perception of professionalism? I wonder if emoticons will go the way of Hypercolor t-shirts and disappear into memory. Unlikely?

I have heard Pascal's words paraphrased before; they are insightful thoughts.

PierG's picture

I've learned the hard way two things:
1. NEVER joke in business - email
2. use emoticons just if you are REALLY sure the other party understand them AND if it's the 'right' kind of reader. In few words: use them just if they use them first.

Sorry to cross-post but I have a set of posts on related topics in my blog: http://pierg.wordpress.com. Search for 'be in rapport with email'. There must be some comments from Mark too and some quotes from MT podcasts.

PierG