Does this situation sound familiar? You’re writing an email to a colleague. In the note, you discuss business, of course. But, at the tail end you make a smart ass remark–and you feel the need to use, yes, the smiley face emoticon.
What do you do?
Emoticons like the smiley face have made tremendous headway into businesses the last few years. It seems like just a few years ago, smiley faces were merely relegated to text messages. Then, they started showing up on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Now, they appear regularly in business emails every day.
Is that devaluing business communication?
Does it impact your perception of the sender of that message?
Does it make the sender of the message seem younger or more immature?
Or, is it a way to humanize our email communications throughout the day?
Is it a way to have a little fun in what can be an unbearably dreary workday?
Is it a way to put a little personality into our business communication?
The basic question is this: Are emoticons OK in the professional workplace?
My thinking: It depends.
If I’m writing an email to the CEO of a key client? No, absolutely not. I want that email to be taken seriously–and it needs to have a buttoned up, professional feel to it.
But, if I’m writing an email to my client that I’ve known for years. A client that’s also a friend, of sorts that I see outside of the workplace. And, it’s a note that’s a bit more light-hearted in nature. Yeah, then I think it’s perfectly OK to use them.
I should say, I probably err on the side of being more “chummy” with a lot of my business contacts. In some cases, people might say I lack professionalism. But, I would say, I’m building relationships. As a consultant, I know people want to work with people they like. It’s pretty hard to do that if people see me as a business consultant robot who’s not capable of having fun or showing personality. So, I see smiley faces and the like as a way to lighten up business conversations from time to time.
What do you think? Are smiley faces OK to use in your business email communications?
Note: Photo courtesy of somegeekintn via FlickR Creative Commons.