I’ve seen it happen before: you try to send a quick note to someone via the instant messenger, a short conversation ensues, and the next thing you know someone’s really ticked off. How did that happen? What did you say to get them that mad?
This is fairly typical and happens on a regular basis, especially when two people don’t know each other very well. One word on the instant messenger can hit a nerve on the other end and make someone think that you are being bossy, rude, or inconsiderate. One word: emoticons.
Emoticons are those little smiley faces you see in chats. While you CAN over-do emoticons, usually it’s better to be safe than sorry.
There are lots of versions. Beer smileys, heart smileys, barf smileys, you name it and there’s a smiley for the occasion. But not all smileys are good for business communication.
I find that I tend to reach for just a few:
- the original smiley 🙂
Works best for just keeping the tone light or to let someone know I’m kidding.
- the unhappy smiley 🙁
Works best for letting someone know I’m not happy without having to type something that might offend them.
- and the wink 😉
Works best as a secondary original smiley. This is a good emoticon for also keeping the tone light or letting someone know you are being sarcastic.
Of course, other emoticons can work, too. Just remember, if the person on the other end of the line does not know you, you should keep the communication simple and light. Even if you need to emphasize a point, you can be clear and follow up with an emoticon to prevent the person from misunderstanding.