Emojis at Work: Yes or No?

by Holly Brochmann

Emojis: You either love ‘em, or you hate ‘em. If you’re indifferent, you probably lean toward the latter category. In this digital era that thrives on impersonal forms of communication, emojis can inject personality into a text or email. They can convey humor, sarcasm, annoyance, or an array of other sentiments when words alone cannot. They are also fun, whimsical, and often even silly. So what about the use of emojis in a professional setting. Are they unprofessional? 

There’s no right or wrong answer to this question, at least in my opinion. It’s mostly a matter of personality and personal preference, though it can be a bit tricky when opposing viewpoints collide. As someone who has big emotions and is also in the business of communications, I’m on Team Love ‘em. With the help of emojis, there’s less room for misinterpretation of an intended tone in a message. For example:

1. I’m so mad at you

2. I’m so mad at you ????

The words are exactly the same, but the emoji completely changes the tone of the statement. Number one comes across as pretty literal – perhaps I actually am mad at you. But in two, it’s pretty clear that my “madness” isn’t genuine, and that my good humor about the situation is intact.

In a personal setting, even if my communication is with someone I don’t know very well, I have no problem letting my personality show through the use of emojis. I’d say I use them in at least 85 percent of my personal messages.

In a WORK setting, however, these are the general guidelines I follow:

  1. With colleagues or industry peers who know me well, emoji away.
  2. When communicating with someone new and I am in a position of authority, I’ll use them, but not in abundance and only as needed. I’m not worried about coming across as unprofessional – it’s more important to me that my tone and intended meaning are accurately communicated.
  3. When communicating with someone new and THEY are in a position of authority (a superior, client, job interviewer, etc.) I follow their lead – if they use them, I will, too. If they don’t, I don’t. In this case, I feel it’s better to err on the side of caution. I don’t want to be seen as frivolous or unprofessional if that’s how they view emojis.

At the end of the day, the use of emojis doesn’t warrant a huge debate. Yet I still took the time to write this blog because emojis are a detail, and to me, details matter.

What’s your opinion about emojis at work: yes or no?

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