Are emojis OK in professional communication?

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Anth Mckeown

Anthony Haynes writes: Our ever-vigilant Business Development Executive, Anth McKeown, draws my attention to the fact that 17 July is World Emoji Day — a fact that I confess had escaped me 🙂

In particular, Anth has kindly pointed me to an article published on the HR review website, entitled World Emoji Day: do they have a place in HR?.

In the article, various HR people provide their views on the use of emoji in professional communication. For example:

  • A company should make clear if the use of emojis is acceptable conduct or not in workplace communications
  • Should you decide to incorporate emojis in to your business communication, take heed: Since there is no consensus on what specific emojis represent, the meaning behind your emoji-filled message can easily get misinterpreted if you aren’t careful
  • Perhaps emojis are acceptable in the workplace but there is a time and a place for them

What strikes me about is such commentary is that it sounds a tad po-faced.

Admittedly, my selection of quotations is one-sided. The article also contains positive notes, especially from Karen Owen (MD at Wurkplace). But there’s no enthusiasm. It’s all rather grudging.

So my message is, ‘Lighten up!’

No doubt emojis can be mis-used, no doubt judgement is required: but what component of language or communicative device does that not apply to?

One has always to take care to get the tone right.

But emojis exist for a reason.

In particular, they can help to indicate what the intended tone is — especially in emails, where the tone of text can be ambiguous. A 🙂 for example can reassure the reader.

Time, surely, to embrace emojis as a creative contribution to our communicative repertoire.


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