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Should You Be Using Emojis In Your Professional Emails?

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Should You Be Using Emojis In Your Professional Emails?

The innocuous smiley face could be a career killer

Do you use emojis in your work emails? Let me guess: you probably do so to portray your friendly and casual self. Maybe you should reconsider.

According to a global research, smileys “do not increase perceptions of warmth, and actually decrease perceptions of competence. Perceptions of low competence, in turn, undermine information sharing.”

But then again, millennials love their emojis, with many even preferring them to words. Which leaves us to wonder — are there any circumstances in which it is okay to use them? For instance, do emojis work when emails are sent to subordinates, or are they a complete no-no?

Let’s explore both sides of the table.

Emails Are Pretty Casual Nowadays

I thinks that using emojis is no big deal, as emails are not as formal as they used to be. As long as they are not offensive or overused, what’s the harm?

Vishal Bhatia (26), a business development manager based in Dubai agrees. “Emails are one of the widely used tools for communication in any corporate environment. Be it an introduction, an update, a quotation, follow up, or a leave request, emails play a key role in establishing the attitude in an organisation.

“However, with the growing dynamics of its users and the entry of cool startups with Gen Y as the workforce, the voice of emails is changing. Previously emails would begin with Dear Sir/Ma’am. Today they begin with Hey guys!.

“Email lingo is also seeing a wide use of animated GIFs and emojis these days to make it less boring.”

Emojis Are Unnecessary

Some people argue that you need emojis to prevent miscommunication and to add emotion to the voice of your mail.

However, if you think about it, you only need to use the right set of words to convey your thoughts. Isn’t using these digital facial expressions an easy, even lazy way to avoid succinct communication?

If we continue to use them as a crutch, we might forget — or worse — never learn how to communicate using the words alone.

And as colourful and animated as grins and eye rolls are, they cannot capture the complexity of human emotions as effectively as the written word.

If You Must Use Emojis, Use Them Wisely

For those of us who grew up with instant messaging, it is natural and fun to use smiley faces in both professional and casual settings. However, we mustn’t forget that it might come off as flippant to older colleagues and superiors.

So if you must use them, do it after careful consideration. Just as you set the tone of your email as per the recipient, use or leave out emojis as well.

Here’s how to use emojis appropriately:

1. Observe the culture of your workplace. Is everybody else using emojis too? If not, it’s best to fall in line — you don’t want to stick out for the wrong reasons.

2. Even if your colleagues and higher-ups use emojis, you should use them judiciously. Vishal shares his thumb rule. “I frequently use emojis when I know my reader is someone who I know very well, and above all, if the emojis add value to my email.”

3. To avoid misinterpretation, stick to emojis that you understand. Also, just like hashtags, make sure you use them in moderation.

4. Most importantly, make sure you use them in an additive manner to clarify or complement your text. Emojis should never replace actual words.

The verdict is simple: follow the lead of others at work before you decide to use emojis. It is your competence that is at stake after all.

Does your workplace embrace or frown upon emojis? Let us know in the comments below.

Image Credit: Nikhil Mudaliar




Mahevash Shaikh is the twenty-something author of Busting Clichés. She loves to write, draw and laugh (among other things). You can find her using words and pictures to express herself and redefine the word "normal" at

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