By Rakel Tang
It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Today, more than ever, we know this to be true. While we still communicate primarily in words, emojis have become a key part of our vocabulary in our everyday online conversations.
However, what about at the workplace? Opinions are still fiercely divided on whether it is appropriate to use emojis in work emails or chats. Some approve of emojis, saying that it makes workplace communication fun and friendly, while others disapprove of it, calling it unprofessional.
SurveyMonkey conducted a survey asking respondents what they thought about the use of emojis at work and the results? 46% of young adults think that emojis are work-appropriate whereas 28% think they are not. On the other hand, older professionals are more likely to frown upon it.
So then, can we use emojis in the workplace?
Why Use Emojis?
1. Convey nuance that words cannot
Communication today has evolved beyond the use of just words, especially in conversations that do not take place face to face. When we are unable to see the other party’s facial expressions and body language, it becomes difficult to gauge what the other person is feeling when they send a message that can be interpreted in different ways. By attaching a simple emoji to your message, you can effectively convey your tone to the other party and cut out the misunderstandings.
2. Makes conversations fun and friendly
According to SurveyMonkey, amongst young professionals, 50% find a colleague to be more fun, 43% see them as more approachable, and 35% deem the colleague to be kinder if they use emojis. How you are perceived by others may go a long way in influencing your relationships at work so being thought of as more fun, more approachable, or kinder may be a good thing.
Why Not Use Emojis?
1. May be seen as unprofessional
In a workplace, professionalism is of utmost priority. Normally, we associate emojis with a casual and fun setting like a chat group with friends whereas we associate formal and proper language with a professional setting like the workplace. By thinking of the divide between your private and public spaces in this manner, it becomes easy to see why people would think that emojis are inappropriate for work.
2. Not everyone gets what you mean
While most emojis are self-explanatory, certain emojis can be a little harder to understand if you and the other party are not on the same page. The emojis that you use with your friends in your private in-jokes may not take on the same meaning when you use it with a colleague. Instead of helping to convey nuance and clear up misunderstandings, emojis may then achieve the opposite effect and create confusion for the other party.
When to Use Emojis?
At the end of the day, whether the use of emojis in workplace conversations is appropriate or inappropriate is still an ongoing debate. However, as modern workplaces move towards relaxing formality and promoting camaraderie between fellow colleagues, there seems to be a growing shift towards accepting emojis in workplace conversations.
If you are thinking of using emojis at work, here are some tips:
Wait and see. If the colleague you are talking to uses emojis, it is probably safe to do the same. Just make sure to stick to the appropriate ones.
Know the right place to use emojis. In work chats on Slack, WhatsApp, or Google Hangouts, it may be all right to throw in an emoji or two every now and then. In email blasts, emojis can help to convey a fun and friendly tone. However, in a formal email to a colleague or client, you might want to hold back on the emojis.
Never use emojis with clients or prospects. Maybe not with your boss too, just to be safe.
Stick to the safe emojis. A smiley face never hurts but emojis have evolved and now come in a colourful range. Steer clear of offensive emojis and anything you think can be misinterpreted negatively. This means no kissy faces