Whether you’re sending a heart to your parents or a crying laughing face to your friend, you’re likely one of the many people who have incorporated emojis into their daily communications. In fact, 92% of the online population uses emojis. These cheerfully illustrated icons are used to convey emotions, emphasize statements, add clarity, or replace written words all together.
But should you extend your love of emojis to the workplace? A recent survey warned that emojis in work emails may make people think you are less competent. Before you turn off your emoji keyboard for good, know that the same survey found that 75% of professionals were interested in using emojis more often in communications. So when it comes to emojis in the workplace, what’s acceptable and unacceptable? Consider the following before you send your next smiley face
- Culture: Look to your workplace culture to set precedence for emoji usage. A jeans and a t-shirt startup culture might have very different emoji preferences than the suited up corporate world. When you receive emails are other people using emojis? Who? Is it just one coworker or are emojis common throughout your company? How are they used? Are they used to celebrate company wins or to clarify an email’s tone? You want to make sure you fully assess the situation before you become known as one the emoji-loving coworker.
- Channel: What’s acceptable in one communication channel might be unacceptable for another. You may find emojis running rampant in your casual office chat software like Gchat and Slack, but not one smiley face to be found in email. Make sure you pay attention to the nuances of each channel as you build your own emoji use guidelines.
- Colleague: Consider your working relationships and who might respond best to emojis. Your coworker friend you grab drinks with may love them while they leave your boss questioning your professionalism. Typically, younger people relate better to emojis with 36% of millennials believing that they communicate their thoughts and feelings better than words. We’re not saying your boss or older colleagues can’t relate, but factor their own emoji preferences in before you hit send.
- Context: Emojis aren’t as universal as you may think, especially if you work at a global company. You’d be surprised how much one emoji’s meaning can vary depending on the person and culture. One person’s shocked face is another’s angry face. The tone of digital communication can be tricky enough without a misplaced emoji clouding the recipient's judgment. When using emojis in the workplace, stick to the basics like a thumbs up or smiley face to cut down on the risk of misinterpretation. And try to limit the overall amount of emojis. One smiley face in an email can convey the same amount of happiness and excitement as ten.
So what’s the consensus? Emojis may be enjoyable to use, but they can easily leave your professional communications up to misinterpretation. Make sure you assess your workplace’s emoji culture and proceed with caution before you send your next smiley.