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Emotive Text: Methods for Communicating Emotion Effectively through Words

As holds true with many other consulting firms, our work at Seilevel requires each and every business analyst to be a jack of all trades. However, our duties always rely upon one ability that must remain strong regardless of the context.  This is the ability to communicate well, both in delivery and in understanding.

One problem apparent in today’s professional world is that as we’ve seen an increase in technological tools that allow us to do our work more efficiently, we’ve seen a decrease in the frequency of face-to-face or vocal communication in business interactions. What this means is that a majority of the time, the back and forth that you are having is delivered through one particularly problematic channel: text (whether it be instant messaging or e-mail).

Text can be a tricky beast when it comes to business communications, as environments can sometimes be stressful and expectations sometimes unclear. These scenarios result in people misconstruing the intended meaning or tone of a message, which can hurt their willingness to comply, their view of the sender, and the timeliness of their response among other things.

One way to avoid these misunderstandings is through the use of emotive text (that’s right, text can carry emotion).  Whether you are trying to elicit certain feelings from a recipient, or you are trying to convey something you are feeling as the sender, emoticons are thankfully not your only option (though while unprofessional, possibly the simplest).

A list of emotive words made available by Charles Sturt University in Australia can be found here. Outside of using positive and negatively charged words, there are other signals you can send or read into contained in text.

These include things like the types of punctuation used in a conversation, ranging from ellipsis to exclamation points (though be careful to accentuate the difference between being happy or excited about something, and being angry or urgent). Also, avoid and encourage others to avoid, using short phrase answers such as “yes” or “no” unless entirely necessary. Ambiguous statements make it easy for the reader to assume a tone that may not be fitting.

Basically, when you create a message, be sure to include indicators of your message’s tone. In more rigidly professional settings, keep things concise to keep your professional credibility unquestioned, but every once in a while, be sure to subtly remind the people you’re working with that there’s a warm body on the other end.

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