In small business, we do less and less business communications face to face these days than we do virtually. Effectively communicating with people by email or text is a lot different than doing it over the phone, through video chat or in person. The secret to better business communication may actually be using more emojis.
On the Small Business Radio Show this week, I interviewed Dr. Nick Morgan, the author of “Can You Hear Me? How to Connect with People in a Virtual World” who is one of America’s top communication coaches. According to Nick, texting and emailing doesn’t work as well as we think. In person, business communication is much more effective because “at least we can nod our head, give a wink or touch someone on the shoulder to convey the true meaning.” Nick believes that the biggest problem with virtual communication is that human intent does not come through in these short writing styles.
For example, you send a quick email to a member of your team that says “We need to talk.” This could mean something positive or negative. Unfortunately, Nick believes usually people will fear the worst with intent especially when it is done online. In addition, he says that with so much virtual communication, people are forced to skim and don’t really have time to figure out what the intent was in the message.
Nick also thinks that most online communication is less empathetic. In person, people get an instant response from body language feedback. Without an immediate response in the virtual world, the sender assumes the other person is fine. Nick says that with online communication, it is easier for people to be thoughtless and mean. I have often wondered if online communications has made it harder for millennials to form meaningful and trusting relationships.
On the show, Nick describes how unemotionally satisfying the feedback we get online is compared to a hug or a smile in person. He points to research that the more time you spend online, the more likely you are to be depressed.
To remedy this in business, Nick advises two actions:
- Ask the virtual receiver “how did what I just said make you feel?” This will guarantee feedback from the person.
- Use text emojis in your messages. Research shows that big organizations think they are childish, but Nick believes that a smiling face or a wink will show the ironic or joking intent which is so critical.