Emojis at work – :) or :(


Emojis have become part of our life since the invention of the smart phone. In fact, if you think about it just putting this ‘:)’ on our old Nokia 3310 was pretty much the start of this craze. Short text was the thing that was often used way before an entire keyboard was available at our finger tips.

But what may be fun and informal when communicating with friends may not be such a good idea at the workplace. Let’s face it would you send the company director a smiley face after they asked you for a full report on that sales fail? Probably not.

Formal Rules

To stay professional formalities are often key to keeping your nose clean and progressing in your career. You never know how the person on the other end of the communication will take it. Getting on the nerves of a fellow superior colleague will often lead to awkwardness in the workplace and no-one really wants that, it is just not worth the bad career move. TV news readers don’t ever do the news in t-shirt and jeans, a business that requires a forward stance approach needs to be represented correctly.

And it is not just your co-workers. For those who have a customer business relationship should consider the language in which you come across, remember you are representing your company. For example, a relationship which may have started well with a client buying your product but then turns sour after a failure for whatever reason could somewhat give the wrong impression. Think about it, if there is a complaint made and you reply with a thumbs up emoticon that really is the catalyst to further investigation. Often a reply with just a ‘?’ can be as powerful as a 500 word email. Keep it formal from the start.

Team Bonding

Many companies that have teams in place have the use of a messaging groups such as What’s App in order to keep communication close. Often these groups are seen as ‘what goes on here stays on here’ thus creating a ‘release’ to any frustration that may arise at work. Emojis have often been helpful in this informal environment. It is always worth reviewing the message before you hit the send button, you can’t always please everybody and even though a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ may have been made for confidentiality once typed and sent it cannot be erased!

Messaging Groups

I have a family What’s App group that is good communication as many of us are located across the UK and often do not see each other. With my parents not on Facebook (and goodness knows we’ve tried) sharing family news and photos are often exchanged. It came as quite a shock when she started to use emojis in reply, often replacing a kiss with a ‘heart’. It was a nice thing and I often wait to see what what mother has found on her emoji keyboard next. And there bears my point: informally and at co-worker level often these are a good thing, a way to ‘break up the norm’, you just need to gauge the situation/relationship first.

I often feel if the emoji has been sent first in communication it is, nine times out of ten OK to reply with one. Not all team leaders are as strict as others and often want a relaxed but professional approach to keep everyone happy. In the right context, using emoji demonstrates you understand current communication trends—while also conveying emotions in a way that words sometimes can’t. For example, using a ‘clapping hands’ symbol to congratulate a colleague on a good deal would be less of an impact that that of a yellow face poking it’s tongue out or worse with Pound signs in their eyes.

In reality emojis are fun, but they can also make or break you. Use them but use them wisely.

Ben Glover




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