You know emojis have gotten out of hand when they have their own movie. The critically planned flick certainly did nothing to stem the tide of smiley faces across digital screens everywhere—so how about yours?
Some believe they have no place at all in workplace emails—that you can’t possibly expect to be perceived as a professional if you’re adding little yellow heads, lightning bolts or confetti imagery to a message. In their view, emojis are simply childish and startlingly informal.
Others are looking at the future and seeing language and communication as fluid concepts. After all, if you were to read a letter from 200 years ago, you’d likely be amused at how absurdly formal it seems. Language and its uses change, and perhaps emojis are simply part of that evolution.
There is also an argument to be made that in some circumstances, emojis have a practical application that text cannot quite match. Adding a smiley at the end of an email conveys a subtle message that you are a happy person, and work is a happy place. It can be helpful in establishing a quick connection with a new person that might otherwise come more slowly and hesitantly. When we see a smiley face, we often think someone simply likes us.
What is the real difference between offering a smiley face and typing “Have a great weekend!” at the end of your email? Both are throwaway methods of adding a human touch to a message. Why is one considered professional and the other not? Perhaps the answer lies in the visual: We tend to associate a smiley face with childlike things.
No matter which side of the emoji debate you come down on, it’s still best not to use them with a boss or with those in the working world whose perception of you is not yet absolutely clear. At this point in the era of the emoji, it’s a much safer bet to stick to good old-fashioned words until you and your recipient know that you’re a true pro.