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Emoticons a Sign You Should Step Away from the Keyboard, Firm Chair Says

Posted Jan 26, 2010 10:15 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Bryan Cave chairman Don Lents travels so much that he is a member of American Airlines’ Concierge Key program, the invitation-only club highlighted in the movie Up in the Air.

Lents advises younger lawyers who have grown up with electronic communications that some news—of the difficult variety—needs to be delivered in person, the New York Times reports.

“I tell our younger lawyers, if you think you are going to have a difficult interaction with a colleague or a client, if you can do it face-to-face, that’s better because you can read the body language and other social signals,” he told the Times.

And lose the emoticons, Lents says. If you are depending on a smiley face to communicate an emotion in a business communication, you need to step away from the keyboard and get on a plane, especially if there is a dispute involved.

“You should never engage in a disagreement electronically,” he told the Times.

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