How to Effectively Emote When People Are Remote

In the ever-evolving nature of the modern workplace, you can have far less face-to-face encounters with your staff and peers than you would like to. This makes giving personal and meaningful recognition a little more challenging.

Employee recognition is a felt phenomenon to begin with, so it must be given with feeling.

I was recently asked how could we emote better in our dialogue and written feedback with people?

I will examine these two areas of verbal and written communication and share my recommendations.

Verbally Expressed Recognition

Employees must feel the transfer of positive emotions that you express to them in order to feel properly recognized. Your voice is a great conveyor of those positive emotions.

I never realized how important tone of voice was until we did some validation testing on the most important recognition behaviors under-expressing recognition verbally. Tone of voice was ranked number 1 in importance and frequency of usage.

Understanding the power and influence of your voice over the phone should help you to give better and more positive emotional expressions.

Social scientists have shown people can detect a smile or a frown just by listening to other people speaking to them, even when there are no visual cues present.

The vocal chords, the larynx and facial cavity, all conform to your smiling or frowning face. The voice quality carries a certain emotional snapshot through the intonation that accompanies your speech.

You may think you are trying to mask things but the human ear can detect audible smiles and frowns.

In fact, when people hear an angry voice, it actually impairs an individual’s ability to perform to the best of their ability. People cannot focus their attention properly on following directions when the prosody of the voice demonstrates anger.

An angry or negative tone of voice automatically negates any positive messaging in the words spoken.

Here are some recognition tips for you to consider in dealing with verbally expressed recognition:

  • Vocal awareness. Become more aware of your voice and how your recognition might come across to people.
  • Genuinely smile. Learn to smile when you’re speaking to people and when giving recognition, so your voice conveys those positive feelings.
  • Vocal feedback. Ask for feedback from others if you should ever use a harsh voice that might damage other’s feelings.
  • Quickly correct. Should you ever use a negative tone of voice – stop, apologize, and commit to using a supportive tone of voice

Next time you want to recognize someone put a smile on your face and let your voice communicate how you feel about that person.

Using Written Feedback

The instant communication through texting and instant messaging has made written expressions become condensed in length, even to the point of abbreviations. The informality has also produced less courtesy in our exchanges.

Since email is still a major tool for communication in the business world, there are some things you can do to convey positive feelings through the written word.

From a courtesy perspective always address the person by name. A person’s name is music to a person’s ears when spoken and seen as respectful in the written format. Take note of how few emails you receive that begin with your name.

Write a sentence that acknowledges them personally, asks a genuine question about their welfare or continues on a previous conversation, a follow-up or personal communication with them.

Then you can get into the nature and purpose of your email and make your request of them. Just don’t jump into this right away.

Put yourself in the email by using the first person pronoun – “I” – in there and how you need their help with a task, project or request.

Now here’s the clincher.

Express your gratitude to them for what they are going to do. Not the “Thank you in advance” – but more the “I appreciate you helping me” or “I am grateful for your time in looking at this”. Essentially, you’re acknowledging the present effort being requested versus the final outcome – which is an opportunity to truly thank the person when the task is completed.

Let’s review how emotion can be embedded in the written communication we have with the people we work with:

  • Personal name. Start off an email or written communication with their name.
  • Personal comments. Consider writing some personal commentary about them or following up on previous conversations.
  • Being polite. Ask politely for what it is you need their help with.
  • First person. Use first person pronoun in your communication so the person “hears” you as if you’re speaking to them through the written word.
  • Be Appreciative. Express your gratitude to them for what they will likely be doing for you or at least be thinking about it.

In this way, your email becomes an extension of your typical verbal communication and of your personality.

Therein lies the ability to put more emotion into your dialogue when on the phone or via the written word in emails.

Reflective Question: How have you seen lost emotional connection with your remote or virtual employees?

Roy is no longer writing new content for this site (he has retired!), but you can subscribe to Engage2Excel’s blog as Engage2Excel will be taking Roy’s place writing about similar topics on employee recognition and retention, leadership and strategy.


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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