Q&A: Using emoticons in work correspondence

Instead of taking shortcuts with emoticons, use proper language for professional emails and texts.

Q: Is it OK to use emoticons and emojis in work correspondence?

A: Frankly, it’s not the best idea. Yes, for some of us it’s tough to resist adding that super-happy smiley face to a last-minute request to a colleague, but remove your fingers from the colon and bracket keys on your keyboard and refrain, says Toronto etiquette expert Louise Fox.

“As usual, it does depend on the relationship and the situation. However, it is best avoided in a business environment because you never know where your email may end up,” she says. “Emails can be forwarded and your winky face could land on the desktop of the CEO. It looks silly and immature.” Instead of taking shortcuts with emoticons (and with your words), use proper language — including, ahem, correct grammar — when emailing or texting colleagues, managers and clients. What’s more, you should also note that not everyone understands emoticons and emojis, and you wouldn’t want the meaning of your wee symbol to be mistaken as something off-colour or offensive. When it comes down to it, you should really be saving such symbols for your Facebook friends, says Fox. 

About the Author

Lisa van de Geyn

Lisa van de Geyn is a freelance writer based in Toronto.

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