Tag Archives: people management

Should Women Use Smiley Faces in Business Communications?

Recently I was contacted by a writer for the business magazine “The Virago.”  She was writing an article about women’s business communication and how so many women fear appearing “too aggressive” in their communication. Many women she talked to apparently felt like they had to add a bunch of smiley faces to their emails in order to avoid the aggressive stereotype and be listened to.

She wanted to talk to me about confident communication for women that will be listened to, and getting over the fear of being “too angry.”  Here are her questions, my original answers, and her final article posted online that also includes other expert opinions. Enjoy!

Q1: In your experience/opinion do both men and women use the smiley face emoji in business emails? Do both genders use them with the same frequency?
A: In my experience not many people use the smiley face emoji in business emails, but they are gaining acceptance. The fact that we have adopted the Japanese term ‘emoji’ and people understand what it means is a testament to that. They were frowned upon (no pun intended) up until very recently. I used to teach people not to use emoticons in business writing right up until just a few years ago. These days they are acceptable if they are familiar (like a smiley face) and add insight to the sentences. I would say women use them a little more frequently than men, but I personally use them often and find them a valuable communication tool.

Q2: Is use of the smiley face emoji effective in emails or does it damage the reputation of the user?

A: It’s often hard for people to understand the exact intended meaning of just written or typed words, and that is why we have more miscommunication with writing compared to phone calls or face-to-face discussions. An emoji can be very useful to add clarity to a comment, so the reader understands that something was a joke or a playful sentence and not a sarcastic one or aggressive order. Here’s an illustration:

“Get back to work!”

“Get back to work!” 🙂

The first phrase may have been sent as a playful jab or joke, but how could we know for sure? It may accidentally hurt feelings or cause tension. In the second example, it’s clear we are teasing.

Regarding our reputation – it can be damaged if people in business think we are not serious of course. We don’t want to overuse the emoji or use obscure ones, and we do want to consider the familiarity of the reader as well. People that know us can ‘hear’ our voice when they read our emails, and in this case the emoji adds tone and should not take away from our reputation. Like everything in life, moderation is the key.

Another example: recently I wanted to give my receptionist a little “trouble” for leaving a small meeting room messy that I needed to use with a client. I walked into the room and saw the mess, took a photo of it, and got down to coaching. I emailed the photo to my receptionist and typed some statement to do with the ‘surprise’ and instructions to please check more thoroughly next time, but ended it with a smiley face emoji. J She wrote back an apology and a joke of some kind with a smiley face too. When I saw her in person next time there was zero tension. The smiley faces allowed each of us to know that the point was taken but there were no bruised feelings over it. Message received, emotions saved!

Q3: Does the gender of the user have any bearing on how an email’s reader reacts to smiley emoji use (or not using smileys)?

A: An emoji is a softener – it softens or lightens the tone of the phrase or sentence. Some people may associate that as more feminine or, like me, they may associate that with empathy and taking steps to have their message understood clearly, and without misunderstanding.

Q4: What is a clear and confident way for a woman to give those she supervises instructions or discuss a difficult subject with them over email without using the smiley face emoji? Are there particular words or phrases that are effective?

A: In general we should avoid discussing difficult subjects over email! That’s the best piece of advice I can give. It’s too easy to be misunderstood when emotions are high. It’s best to use email to arrange a face-to-face or phone meeting to discuss the situation. Other than that, it’s important for people to take emotions out of business reports, feedback or evaluations. Stick to the facts and avoid judgmental words like: always, never, good, bad, smart, lazy etc. As a manager you should focus your communications on dealing with behaviour, not the personality. Don’t “accidentally on purpose” make it personal when it doesn’t have to be.

Ric Phillips, Communication Coach


@CommCoach (Twitter)
Final Virago Article:  http://thevirago.ca/2017/02/24/emoticon-sending-wrong-message/

12 Solutions for Being a Better Leader

Hello all,

I am participating in a “Blog Tour” and have the privilege to introduce this article by Mark Tewart. Enjoy – be a better leader!

12 Solutions for Being a Better Leader
By Mark Tewart

1. Manage things and lead people.
Processes should be defined and managed daily. People should be led by example daily. Management by strict control inhibits star performers and eliminates creativity of intelligent people. Feelings of manipulation are caused by strict control. Control, manipulation, and disrespect keep many dealerships from moving to another level of performance.

2. Speed of the boss = speed of the team.
If the boss has a sense of urgency, the team will, too. The leader sets the tone. Great leaders create an attitude and atmosphere of winning. The leader sets the stage for the proper belief systems necessary to succeed.

3. Coach people more than you manage deals.
If you spend your time coaching people through training, one-on-ones and positive feedback, your people will become less addicted to you. Spend 80% of your day with your team and your customers. The rest can wait.

4. Create a Stop Doing List.
To find out what to do, you must also define what not to do. What are you doing everyday that you should either, stop doing, delegate, or do less of, or at a different time?

5. Practice the 4 D’s of action management.
Dump it, Defer it, Delegate it, or Do it. With proper action management, you will spend less time in crisis and emergency mode.

6. Recruiting is an ongoing process.
Determine an ongoing action plan for recruiting. What channels will you use to recruit and how much time each week to do it. What automated systems can you set up through web sites, job boards, college placement centers, military posts, etc. can you set up to increase potential candidates? Don’t wait until you need people to dig through the drawer to find the help wanted ad that everyone else uses.

7. Set clear expectations.
People need and desire clear expectations of their job functions, behavior, and performance. The days of hiring people and showing them the inventory, their desk, and telling them to get busy are over. For a greater chance of success, people cannot succeed without written and communicated expectations.

8. People don’t change that much, so stop trying.
Do not try to put in what God left out. When a person has reached adulthood, they primarily tend to repeat the patterns either they have created or that are based upon their nature. Grow a person’s strengths, and stop trying to fix their weaknesses.

9. Educate and motivate daily.
Good people want continuing education. Educate and motivate every day. Educating daily creates results; periodical training never does. If you have people rejecting education, then you must reject them. Would a great coach allow certain players to not practice because they didn’t want to?

10. Listen, listen, listen.
Nothing inspires people more than when they feel a manager will actually listen. People need to be respected and heard. A manager’s best customers are the people they coach.

11. Get out from behind the desk.
Lead the team. People want to know that their leader is one of them. Desks can become huge barriers to communicating.

12. Don’t forget emotions.
Behind all goals, dreams, achievements, and failures are emotions. Learn to tap into each team member’s pleasure and pain motivators to better guide them. Coach each team member with this in mind – thoughts become words, words become actions, actions create habits, habits create results, and they are all seeking emotions.

Great leadership is essential in creating great teams. Expect more of yourself and your team will follow. The leader is the final reason for success or failure.

Mark Tewart’s websites include: www.marktewartlive.com, www.marktewart.com and www.howtobeasalessuperstar.info

To read the first chapter of How to be a Sales Superstar and to receive several FREE bonuses from Mark Tewart, visit www.marktewartlive.com.

Full tour details are posted at http://virtualblogtour.blogspot.com/2008/10/how-to-be-sales-superstar-by-mark.html

How Are Your People-Management Skills?

How would your employees rate your people-management skills?

Here is an interesting find from a recent Hackett Group survey of 200 global organizations (source: HR Professional, Aug/Sept. 2008) when asked to discuss talent management practices:

More that 75% of participants rated people-management skills as very important.

I bet that you are not surprised. Me either. The fact is almost everyone, whether employee, employer, entrepreneur or customer can see the benefits of good people-management.

So here is the next part of the survey results:

Only 19% of senior managers, 10% of mid-level managers and 8% of supervisors were rated highly effective at managing people!


Why is there such a discrepancy between what we know we want and the actual results of managers in the workplace? This leads to many questions that you can ask yourself when self-evaluating.

1 – Am I as a manager trained in people-management skills, or advanced communication skills? What is available to continuously improve?

2 – Do I have a way to find out what my employees really think of my management skills or the other manager’s skills? Can an anonymous survey be done?

3 – What do my employees really want? How do they define people-management?

4 – Do my employees feel comfortable coming to me to discuss their needs without feeling intimidated or out of line?

The topic of people-management deals with issues like communication, interpersonal skills, leadership, assertiveness, conflict and many others. If you know of a highly effective manager maybe you can find an opportunity to sit down and pick their brains on how they developed their style. Ask them what books or courses they would recommend, or to tell stories of managers that influenced them. No matter what position we are in at work, we are all in pursuit of excellent management skills.

Confident Verbal Communications

Here is a sample of what was taught at a previous public 3V communication skills workshop to help our participants communicate their confidence:

Even though only 7% of our communication is verbal, which is our word choice, phrases and expressions used etc. we still need to acknowledge the impact of what we say on others.

A confident person knows when he or she is good at something, and trusts themselves at all times. They know that the words we say affect our belief system. Not cocky, not meek, a confident person simply states the truth.

Now you finish these sentences with confidence!

I am…

I will…

I trust that…

I can…

I’m able to…

Yes, that’s correct. I am…

I trust you. You can do it. I know because…

We also sometimes use ‘softeners’ when we want to be more diplomatic, professional, non-aggressive and non-offensive. A confident person never wants to offend anyone, and is not easily offended either. They always take the higher ground. They are expert managers of conflict. They are excellent listeners and have developed their empathy levels. They have no need to assert their strength to put others down. They can defend themselves politely, yet firmly. They do not argue. They discuss.

Some example softeners are below.

Would you mind…?

Could you please…?

Could I ask…?

Is it possible to…?

I’m wondering if…?

How do you feel about…?

I’m curious to know…

Sometimes changing a small phrase in your sentence or question will make all the difference between being a confident communicator or a wishy-washy or even offensive speaker. Remember that the next time someone tries to bully you as well.  

All the best!

The Best 3 Books for Managers?

The best 3 books on management, as voted by the PROFIT 100 (Source: PROFIT magazine, Dec-Jan 08), are Good to Great by Jim Collins, Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore, and The One-Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard.

Has anyone read these? Care to comment on what you thought? Agree or disagree? Do you have any other books you can recommend to managers or entrepreneurs?

(NOTE: I often coach managers on interpersonal/professional communications, so any good book I could recommend to them is valuable knowledge and much appreciated.)