Tag: communication (page 1 of 4)

This isn’t working. Can we talk about that?

Thankfully, there’s no-one calling me back into the office. But this post is about people who are being recalled — as well as those working in sub-optimal remote settings.

This post suggests that the phrase “this isn’t working” should be viewed as an invitation for dialogue rather than a threat, arguing that open communication is crucial for things inadequate in the workplace.

The Future of Work conversation is full of rejected gifts. We’ve seen bosses throw “this isn’t working” back in employees’ faces as “entitlement.” As “millennials.” As “no one wants to work anymore.” We’ve seen employees throw it back in their CEO’s face, too, as “outdated.” Or “boomers.” Or “something something commercial real estate.” As far as we can tell, that point-scoring hasn’t gotten us any closer to the future we’re all trying to build.

We know that everyone’s sick of constantly redesigning the rules of work. There’s this revisionist nostalgia for, in some quarters, 2019. And in others, 2021. We know that some of you have built systems here in 2023 that are working for you, and you would like them to please just stay put for a goddamned minute. We get that. But when someone tells you that those systems aren’t working for them, shouting them down won’t give you the peace and quiet you want.


By all means, read what other orgs are doing. Maybe there are things you can learn from what Apple does, or Google, or Smuckers. But there’s no shortcut around the conversation. Every sales person, fundraiser, marketer, product leader, and designer will tell you the same thing. You have to talk to people to know if you’re actually reaching them. To know if any of your solutions actually solve the problem.

Source: Sorry I’m getting kicked out of this room | Raw Signal Group

Emoji, we salute you 🫡

I remember going to a conference session about a decade ago when people were still on the fence about emoji and the presenter said that they were the most important form of visual communication since hieroglyphics.

It’s hard to argue otherwise. I’ve been a huge fan since I noticed that adding a smiley to my emails made a huge difference to the way that people received and understood them. It’s a way of communication at a distance; how would we navigate group chats and social networks without them? 😅

Valeria Pfeifer is a cognitive scientist at the University of Arizona. She is one of a small group of researchers who has studied how emojis affect our thinking. She tells me that my newfound joy makes sense. Emojis “convey this additional complex layer of meaning that words just don’t really seem to get at,” she says. Many a word nerd has fretted that emojis are making us—and our communication—dumber. But Pfeifer and other cognitive scientists and linguists are beginning to explain what makes them special.

In a book called The Emoji Code, British cognitive linguist Vyvyan Evans describes emojis as “incontrovertibly the world’s first truly universal communication.” That might seem like a tall claim for an ever-expanding set of symbols whose meanings can be fickle. But language evolves, and these ideograms have become the lingua franca of digital communication.


Perhaps the first study of how these visual representations activate the brain was presented at a conference in 2006.1 Computer scientist Masahide Yuasa, then at Tokyo Denki University in Japan, and his colleagues wanted to see whether our noggins interpret abstract symbolic representations of faces—emoticons made of punctuation marks—in the same way as photographic images of them. They popped several college students into a brain scanning machine (they used functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI) and showed them realistic images of happy and sad faces, as well as scrambled versions of these pictures. They also showed them happy and sad emoticons, along with short random collections of punctuation.

The photos lit up a brain region associated with faces. The emoticons didn’t. But they did activate a different area thought to be involved in deciding whether something is emotionally negative or positive. The group’s later work, published in 2011, extended this finding, reporting that emoticons at the end of a sentence made verbal and nonverbal areas of the brain respond more enthusiastically to written text.2 “Just as prosody enriches vocal expressions,” the researchers wrote in their earlier paper, the emoticons seemed to be layering on more meaning and impact. The effect is like a shot of meaning-making caffeine—pure emotional charge.

Source: Your 🧠 On Emoji | Nautilus

Technology and productivity

Julian Stodd’s personal realisation that what the people who make ‘productivity tools’ want and what he wants might be two different things.

See also: Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman

I fear that the suites of tools and features that allow me to work from anywhere do, in fact, distract me everywhere.

I feel that at time i have lost the art of long form and collapsed into the conversational and reactive.


Does technology always make us more productive – or can technology hold us apart? Do we need to be together to forge culture, and to find meaning, or can being together make us more busy than wise?

I suspect my personal (and perhaps our organisational) challenge is one of separation: to separate out my segregated spaces – to separate my thinking and doing, my learning and acting, my reflection and practice.

Source: The Delusion of Productivity | Julian Stodd’s Learning Blog