As an author who has written many articles and a book (with another about to be published) on Netiquette and email, in general, I do not believe that emoticons, email shorthand or emoji are really a part of Netiquette and should rarely, if ever, be used.
However, the article point makes good points. The strongest of these is maintaining good tone.
All I will say here is that if debating emojti usage, err on the side of avoiding them!
Good Netiquette And A Green Internet To All!
In the absence of tone, people read negative tone into it.
UPDATED 17 MAY 2015 - 10:45 AM
It wasn’t too long ago that the exclamation mark was a point of etiquette contention in the world of email and the workplace. Style and trend pieces : Are they wildly inappropriate? Are they offensive? What if you just use one?
Language is, of course, ever-evolving. exclamation
In , 76 percent of Americans said that they have used emoji in digital communication at work. Just as it is , the most popular emoji in life and work is the happy face.
, a career coach who works with Millennials, agrees that emoticons and emoji have gone from being inappropriate for the workplace to being accepted, largely because the demographic of the workplace is changing. Millennials are now , and along with them comes new technology and mannerisms.
“A few years ago, emoticons were absolutely seen as very young and very personal, and not appropriate for the workplace,” says Pollak. “Over the past few years … I've seen emoticons become more acceptable. I still have very mixed feelings about the appropriateness, but I certainly see them more frequently not just from Millennials but from all generations at the workplace.”
But why are people using emoticons or emoji in the workplace? The answer is that they’re useful. Lauren Collister, a socio-linguist at the . In emails, Collister says that emoticons and emoji act as —a word that has no semantic meaning but adds intention to a statement. who studies the interaction of language and society, argues that whether it be emoticons or emoji—both are doing their part in
It’s for this reason that the happy-face emoji dominates. As Will Schwalbe, co-author (sometimes regarded as the “”), explains, “The biggest problem about all electronic communication is that it's toneless. In the absence of tone, people read negative tone into it.”of the classic email etiquette book
“Whether you're using the exclamation mark, which we called the ‘ur emoticon’, or emoticons, or emoji, they all serve the same incredibly valuable purpose which is they take this very dull, flat, affectless form of communication and they make it cheerful, friendly, they bring a smile … They kick it up a notch,” says Schwalbe.
A on email in the workplace found exactly that: Emoticons in the workplace were not used to convey emotion, but rather to signal how the information in the email should be interpreted. They found : to express positive vibes, to mark jokes, and lastly to either strengthen or soften statements that could be misread as reprimanding. An found that on that last point, smiley faces in email can reduce negative interpretations.
Along with the usefulness of emoticons and emoji in clarifying tone in emails, another partial explanation for the rise of emoji at work is that digital work communication now incorporates casual communication as well.
Beyond email, the of office collaboration and communication tools like Slack are increasingly taking casual work interactions online. “Casual communication is a perfectly valid type of office communication that's always existed,” says Schwalbe. In the past, these interactions—whether it’s to tell a joke or ask someone how their weekend was—were reserved for in-person or on the phone. Nowadays, there’s a Slack channel for that—whether it’s fans or baby photos. This moving of casual office communication online—and therefor into text—has contributed to people’s comfort level of using emoticons and emoji with their co-workers.
Stewart Butterfield, the CEO and co-founder of Slack, says that one of the aims of the tool was let people feel comfortable with these casual interactions online.
Pollak, however, warns against being too casual at work. Her advice is be conscious of who the audience is, and gauge their comfort level before putting in that emoji. “Frankly, I wouldn't use a smiley face with any CEO in America. I wouldn't use a smiley face with a certain level of executive no matter how commonplace and acceptable they've become,” “You can make or break a relationship with one email these days, so you have to be really careful.”
In other words, the usual office rules still applies with emoticons and emoji. For example, don’t use them with a superior or a client unless they use it first and establish it as an accepted norm.
Schwalbe’s advice is just to use common sense.
“No one likes sarcasm. It's a very bad form of work communication. Using emoji or emoticons in a sarcastic way is just as bad as it's always has been,” says Schwalbe. “We should bear in mind that sarcasm existed long before emoji, and it's always been a bad tactic. We didn't need emoji to be obnoxious.”
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