Should you use emojis in professional communication?
Priya Wadhwa

Should you use emojis in professional communication?

Emojis are filling the communication gap in text messages.

Have you ever wondered why people started using colons and brackets in their SMSs? Why did pictograms invented by tech companies reach a point where it has become a political debate about colour and family?

There was a clear gap that needed to be filled and sometimes words are just not enough to express how one feels.

Written communication has always faced this issue of not completely passing the message along. This is because words in themselves form only a small percentage of the communication. The two ways in which we communicate most are through non-verbal gestures and tone of voice.

And these are removed in the ever popular text communication.

Communication issues at work

Work emails are worse. Majorly because people are taught to remove emotions from the language — the one aspect that is critical to communication. The fact is, people need to know the intentions behind words, otherwise they can easily be misconstrued.

The business world today is facing a communication breakdown, whereby text in emails are often perceived to carry veiled anger, to be putting pressure, playing in office politics, or to simply saving oneself from blame — none of which are healthy for a good working environment.

Emojis to the rescue?

One of the reasons people like working at startups and SMEs is because sitting in a smaller office, people are used to talking to each other instead of sending emails to people sitting right across them.

Moreover, many are starting to use chat communication platforms such as slack and even WhatsApp for official communication.

These are platforms that people use emojis on. It sees a less formal communication style, but is just as binding when it comes to work. Moreover, who wants 10 emails of one-line conversations?

61% of employees use emojis at work, saying it helps them communicate their thoughts and feelings better, as well as connect to people more routinely via text or online message.
2019 Emoji Trend Report

The recently released 2019 Emoji Trend Report showed 61% of employees using emojis at work, citing that it helped them communicate their thoughts and feelings better, as well as connect to people more routinely via text or online message.

However, despite the increase in people using emojis at work on a daily basis, 72% said they were hesitant at first — naturally since we have been often told that it is unprofessional to use emojis.

The guiding rule of thumb here is to know whom you are emailing. If you're talking on a messaging platform, it is likely that you are familiar with the person and talk regularly. In this case, emojis are safe to use.

However if you're emailing someone for the first time, then use your judgement before inserting that emoji. Initial communications are crucial as they set the tone of your relationship and you do not want to be too forward when you're talking to someone at the c-suite level.

Use your judgement when inserting a smiley. While a :) is often safe and can make the message be perceived more kindly, err on the conservative side if you do not know the person well. The cruz of the matter is that due to the innate nature of text communication lacking the ability to show intent, one needs to make an extra effort when writing emails so they are a better reflection of your intent and emotions. Emojis can be helpful here.