By Alan Wilemon, Corporate Compliance Manager – Shriners Hospitals for Children
It is truly amazing how quickly the emoji has taken over. Who knew so much could be said with an emotionally expressive cartoon? Many phones today will even prompt you during a text to replace some of your written words with this magic little character. Why yes iPhone, I did want to use the face of a tiny yellow man instead of a word there – thanks for looking out! The emoji has asserted itself so strongly as a global communicative tool at this point, there is even data being collected on its use.
This past summer, Twitter released a list of the “Top Tweeted Emojis” from several countries, and the results are fun to explore. Italy and France continue their battle of being proclaimed the “Most Romantic Country in the World” by both tweeting a heart emoji most often. Columbia, Argentina and Brazil all tweeted the music notes emoji most frequently, and Australia made the list by most commonly tweeting the thumbs-up emoji, letting us know they are pretty much down for whatever, whenever. The most surprising contributors on the list to me, however, were the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. You see, while the rest of the world was tweeting feel-good icons like hearts, music notes, and even a flexing bicep (hi Spain!), the aforementioned trio were united by a different kind of emoji: The exhausted face. Being from the U.S., this really resonated with me. Of all the things we could be expressing, this was the most common? This was what we wanted to broadcast to the world the most? That we are generally just over it?
We could spend all day talking about the different ways to make application here – but let’s focus on one question. Knowing that there is a great chance the people you interact with may be feeling exhausted (no matter where you are from) – does that change how you plan to communicate with them? Or better yet, does that change how you plan to communicate with them as a compliance professional?
Knowing there is potential that our coworkers and colleagues are feeling exhausted, we must be willing to change how we communicate. If we are being real, we know compliance professionals aren’t always the first to be invited to the party. Sometimes there are misconceptions in organizations about what we do, and other times, there are individuals that simply cannot fathom that anyone might say “no” to them (I know…the law, right? So inconvenient.) As a compliance professional you may be avoided, ignored, and downright excluded at times because people just do not want to deal with you – because they are just too exhausted to deal with the disruption that they think you are about to introduce. No, it’s not fair. Yes, it’s your job to overcome it.
Regardless of how we are received by our peers, we have an important job – so if we need to go out of our way to overcome their preconceived notions about how arduous interactions with us are going to be – it’s on us to make it happen. Thankfully, there are some pretty simple concepts we can put into action right away to dramatically improve our interactions with people, and show them our sole purpose in life is not to simply make things hard on them.
- Learn the Art of Being Succinct. Knowing that people are probably afraid of how much of their time you are about to take – surprising them with how quickly things go can completely transform how they perceive you. Learning to express ideas clearly and concisely can make you extremely effective in the workplace, and increase your chance of further interactions. It is definitely something that takes practice, though. You don’t want to cut important content just to meet an arbitrary timeframe, but you do want to be conscious of what is vital to the discussion at hand, and what isn’t. Be a good steward of the time people have carved out for you by being prepared to take as little of it as is truly needed.
- Be a Solutions-Oriented Person. We all have been in a group of people trying to figure out what to do for lunch, and witnessed the guy who vetoes everyone else’s suggestions, but offers no contributions of his own. No one likes that guy. There will definitely be times when you need to communicate that something can’t or shouldn’t happen, but if that is all you ever have to offer you will never endear yourself to your colleague. The silence that follows a solitary “no” can be hazardous to what once had been a fruitful discussion, and it can confirm your coworker’s suspicion that you really are just exhausting to work with. Be as prepared as possible to offer alternative solutions for a project or idea to still become a reality, even if not as originally planned. If you need to do more research on the project or proposal ahead of time, so be it.
- Be Dynamic! Knowing that you are walking into the room with people that could be thinking the worst of how this is about to go – you are doomed if you also walk into the room exhausted. This is your chance to surprise them! Be charismatic, funny, charming, personable, relatable, down-to-earth…be anything but tired and boring. In this moment, you are a salesperson, and your amazing, game-changing product is yourself. People will be receptive to you if they like you, and people will generally like you if they find you to be dynamic and excited to be there
If it’s true that all of our coworkers are exhausted – be ready to be part of the solution. You have to make it clear to everyone that any communication with you will be productive, refreshing, and beneficial. If we can all get better at this – the hi-five and confetti emojis will be competing for the top spot on our list in no time.
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