Do you use emojis in your work emails? Let me guess: you probably do so to portray your friendly and casual self, right? Maybe you should reconsider. Recruiter Adam Karpiak was recently told that “smiley faces aren’t considered professional”. Ugh. Emojis help us emote, so what’s wrong with using them?
According to global research, smileys “do not increase perceptions of warmth and actually decrease perceptions of competence. Perceptions of low competence, in turn, undermined information sharing.”
But then again, millennials and Zoomers love their emojis, with many even preferring them to words. Which leaves us to wonder: are there any circumstances in which it is okay to use them? For eg, does using them work when emails are sent to subordinates or are they a complete no-no? Let’s explore both sides of the table.
YES! Emails are pretty casual nowadays.
I think that using emojis is no big deal as emails are not as formal as they used to be. As long as they are not offensive or overused, what’s the harm? GIFs and memes are fine as well.
Vishal Bhatia, a Business Development Manager based in Dubai agrees. “Emails are one of the widely used tools for communication in any corporate environment. Be it an introduction, an update, quotation, follow up, leave request, etc., emails play a very key role in establishing the formal attitude in an organization.
However, with the growing dynamics of its users and entry of cool startups with gen-Y as the workforce, the voice of emails is changing. Previously emails would begin with “Dear Sir/Ma’am”; today they begin with “Hey guys!” Email lingo is also seeing wide use of animated GIFs and emojis these days to make it less boring.”
NO! They are unnecessary.
Some people argue that you need emojis to prevent miscommunication regarding the voice of the email. Others think that they add much-needed emotion to the cold written word.
However, if you think about it, you only need to use the right set of words to convey your thoughts and feelings. Isn’t using these digital facial expressions an easy, even lazy way to avoid succinct communication? If we continue to use them as a crutch, we might forget or worse, never learn how to communicate using words alone.
And as colorful as grins, eye rolls, et al. are, they cannot capture the complexity of human emotions as effectively as written text.
BUT if you must use emojis, use them appropriately.
For those of us who grew up with instant messaging, it is natural and fun to use smiley faces in both professional and casual settings. However, we mustn’t forget that it might come off as flippant to older colleagues and superiors. In fact, web designer Sheeba from Dubai stopped using them for this very reason. “I felt my coworkers considered me a kidult due to this. Also, they never reciprocated with emojis in their emails.”
So if you must use them, do it after careful consideration. Just as you set the tone of your email as per the recipient(s), accordingly use or leave out emojis as well.
Personal opinion aside (if I could I would use emojis everywhere), here’s what you should do:
1. Observe the culture of your workplace. Is everybody else using emojis too? If not, it’s best to fall in line – you don’t want to stick out for the wrong reasons.
2. Even if your colleague and higher-ups use emojis, you should use them judiciously. Vishal shares his thumb rule. “I frequently use emojis when I know my reader is someone who I know very well, and if the emojis add value to my email.”
3. To avoid misinterpretation, stick to emojis that you understand. Also, just like hashtags, make sure you use them in moderation.
4. Most importantly, make sure you use them in an additive manner, to clarify or complement your text. Emojis should never replace actual words.
The verdict is simple: follow the lead of others at work before you decide to use emojis. It is your competence that is at stake after all. And if you do decide to use them, moderation is key.
Does your workplace embrace or frown upon emojis? Let me know in the comments below.