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Here's How To Get Your Online And Offline Personalities In Sync

Do you come across as the same person professionally in face-to-face conversation as you do in cyberspace?

Communication isn't always easy. Technology can make it difficult to keep track of your offline vs. online personality. Offline, you might be guarded and shy, while online, behind the safety of your computer or smartphone, you are charismatic and charming — everything you wish you could be face-to-face.

Through social media, you can be long-term friends with someone without ever meeting them face-to-face. Sometimes, your online dating profile doesn't quite match your personality in person, but you can both just move on if it doesn't work out.

But what about your professional life?

For example, you might find yourself in a situation in your career where you are working as a team leader for a client located at the other end of the country. Communication between you has taken place almost exclusively online and things have been going well.

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The client came to town to finally meet you and the team and talk about a larger, long-term assignment that will involve you working more closely with her and other members on her team. The client was surprised that your online personality did not reflect your offline personality. While you were clear and concise with her in cyberspace, you were rambling and running on when you met face-to-face. This made her question your authenticity as she felt she was speaking with two different people. She was ultimately questioning the sort of person she was really dealing with, and perhaps wondered which face you would present to members of her team. Your inconsistency in your communication styles caused her to question your trustworthiness.

You won the new business, but things got off to a rocky start.

Do you come across as the same person in face-to-face conversation as you do in cyberspace? Face-to-face communication relies on emotion, body language and tone, as well as content, to get your message across. Communication through cyberspace is missing the emotion, body language, and, to some extent, tone, leaving your conversation partner to interpret your responses.

The speed of communicating through cyberspace can remove the warmth from your words and make you sound terse and even detached. And the comfort many of us feel when talking with someone in person can encourage us to be more forthcoming and less focused.

The challenge is to appear to be same person online as in a face-to-face conversation.

Most of us have more conversations online than in-person. Let's say we exchange 30 emails daily with others, compared to five phone calls and three face-to-face meetings. Our email content may be more to the point due to the volume of information we communicate. Meanwhile, information delivery through in-person conversations is more personal and less terse.

The challenge is to appear to be same person online as in a face-to-face conversation.

If you are meeting someone for the first time and are better communicating remotely than with someone over a cup of coffee, this can create anxiety. Communicating through social media and email gives you the opportunity to think about what you are going to say and how you are going to say it before you hit "send." You have a chance to check the tone and accuracy of your comments before you share them with someone else. In face-to-face, telephone, or Skype conversations, you are in real time and don't have long to reflect before you speak. Therefore, you must concentrate on what you're going to say next.

Here are five tips to ensure that your professional and day-to-day personalities are consistent when you present yourself to others, whether face-to-face or in cyberspace.

If you tend to use simple language and communicate in short sentences online, be sure to duplicate that style when meeting face-to-face or speaking on the phone. You don't need to be terse, but avoid long-winded ideas and think about what you are going to say before you speak. The contrast between a person of few words and one who borders on the verbose can be jarring and often lead to miscommunication between both parties.

In face-to-face conversation, you have the advantage of being able to read a person's body language and listen for cues that they may not understand what you are saying. Conversely, you might see that they are fully on board with your ideas and that gives you license to move forward in the conversation.

People judge others' communication skills on the crispness and quality of the questions that are asked. Avoid being a person who asks questions easily online but has trouble asking them face-to-face for fear of making the other person feel uncomfortable.

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If you tend to be upbeat and praise others in person, but more critical online, you may come across as conflicted or inconsistent. It also might make others not fully trust you when you compliment them face-to-face because they might feel it is disingenuous.

Understand your goals, strengths and what makes you happy. Then, make sure that your online and offline personalities reflect this. If the two are not in sync, your efforts to communicate with others (whether in person or online) will be at cross-purposes. Once you are comfortable with your personal brand, technology won't be an issue as you use the same style of communication whether you are remote or face-to-face.

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