Emojis go Mainstream (But Not at Work)

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Today, July 17 th , is World Emoji Day, so no better day than to warn you of the pitfalls of using
emojis in the workplace.

Those small digital icons (called emoticons, or emojis in Japanese) include happy faces, sad faces
and hundreds of little pictures of emotions and objects. They’ve become ubiquitous in text
messaging, social media and even email.

But, like all things, there’s a proper time and a place for emojis, and business communication is
generally not one of them. Many young professionals have gotten in trouble for sending a winky face to a colleague that was misinterpreted… or correctly interpreted.

Emoji-don’ts at Work

A 2017 study published in the journal Social Pyschology and Personality Science suggests that people who use emoticons in work or professional emails may be perceived as warmer and more personable but less competent.

In the workplace, competence rules all. As a new employee, you want to be respected, taken
seriously and seen as mature and intelligent. The more competent you seem, the more likely it is
that you’ll be considered for promotions, bonuses and opportunities for professional growth.
At least in initial communications with a colleague, associate or boss, leave the emojis out until
you’ve established a reputation for being responsible, reliable and professional.

Emoji Do’s at Work

If you do use emojis in a professional email — which we don’t recommend — there are a few
etiquette rules. First, keep the situation in mind. Entrepreneur magazine recommends, “carefully
consider the situation, the person who will receive it and the tone of your business
communications.” Further, never use emojis when words could convey the same message.

Many emojis can have dual meanings to them, so when in doubt, leave them out.

“Don’t rely on an icon to describe how you’re feeling. Emojis can have their place in messaging, but consider them as merely an enhancement, not a replacement. To be safe, use them sparingly,
wisely and appropriately,” Entrepreneur advises.