As millennials we can construct an entire conversation based on the language of emoji. Their use has grown rapidly since their introduction in 1998, with the power to add value or devalue content. Although employees of all ages are quickly adapting to life in the digital sphere, some desire those professional barriers to remain intact. Before you send that email to your boss’s boss, first consider whether an emoji is an appropriate form of expression.
The Emoji in Email
Why write in longhand when a 2D emoticon can form a sufficient reply? Short answer: because different generations interpret things differently. Much like punctuation, an emoji is often used to alter the tone of your text. For example, if you want to add enthusiasm to your email, you might add an emoji in place of an exclamation mark! According to Business News Daily, only 21% of senior managers surveyed said they did not have a problem with their employees using emojis in their work. Thus, while the use of a smiley face might be second nature to you, it could aggravate that all-important contact.
Think About Your Audience
These tiny pictures are not just being used by today’s youth; but by professional companies as part of social media campaigns, marketing activities and much more. Whilst colleagues are usually a safe bet, we should be aware that those on the receiving end will understand the meaning behind the emoji. For example, some emojis have sexual connotations, so a wrongly perceived message could cross professional boundaries 😜 Any correspondence with company directors, business partners and clients should always remain emoji-free, unless you have built up that level of rapport.
Analyse the Situation
Consider the nature of your correspondence; emojis are best left out of serious matters altogether, so try to express your feelings with words instead. If used sparingly, the odd thumbs-up can soften a direct message to a colleague 👍 Refrain from littering your dialogue with them though, as this can appear immature/childish.
Before using an emoji, ask yourself:
- How well do I know the recipient of my email; how old are they, what profession are they in, what type of character are they?
- Does the use of an emoji reflect my professional behaviour well?
- Can the emoji be interpreted in any other way? To check popular meanings of an emoji, visit emojipedia.org.