Emojis have become part and parcel of how we communicate with friends and families. We don’t think twice when sending a smiley or frowney face to those with whom we are closest.
These cute images add emotion, humor, and meaning to messages. They are the spice in otherwise bland text-based communication. But when it comes to writing emails to colleagues, it’s not such a good idea to use emojis.
In a recent study, researchers found those who read messages with smiley emojis rated the senders as less competent. “Perceptions of low competence in turn undermined information sharing,” conclude the authors of the study.
Yet 76 percent of Americans use emojis such as a happy face, thumbs up, and winking face in their professional communications.
Here are a few times when it might be a good idea to use emojis in work emails:
1. When you’re trying to diffuse a situation
During a stressful situation — for example, you and your colleagues are racing to meet a deadline — adding a smiley face to an email can help you inject some much-needed levity.
2. When you’re sending short and logistical emails
When we engage in quick, back-and-forth email communications with colleagues, email starts to resemble more of an instant chat.
It’s ok to add emojis to these staccato communiques because these emails aren’t intended to be official declarations. For example, “Where are going to lunch? :-)”
3. When you’re trying to make someone feel welcome
When a new hire enters the office, they will have to learn the norms and traditions of the workplace.
When you send them an email with an emoji, it will help them see you as a friend, or as someone who is not a stickler for the rules. By using a smiley face, you are saying, “I am approachable.”
Commentary by Deepak Chopra and Kabir Sehgal
Kabir Sehgal is a New York Times best-selling author. He is a former vice president at JPMorgan Chase, multi-Grammy Award winner and U.S. Navy veteran. Chopra and Sehgal are the co-creators of Home: Where Everyone Is Welcome, inspired by American immigrants.