Q: I receive a lot of business emails these days that are filled with exclamation points, emoticons and emoji. It seems that some people overuse this form of communication. Is it OK to add them in a business email or text? If so, what should we consider before adding them.
A: No question about it, emoji and emoticons are everywhere these days. They're even making movies about them. While I think emoticons and emoji can be a quick and easy way to add a sentiment to an email or text that otherwise can be somewhat emotionless, caution should be observed when using them in business transactions.
Here are some guidelines to consider:
* Avoid using emoji and emoticons in business emails and texts until you have established some sort of relationship with the individual. Using them in an initial communication can make you seem unprofessional and juvenile.
* If you have established a relationship/friendship with a business contact, feel free to use them sparingly. Too much of a good thing can be too much and may not have the intended effect.
* Don't use emoji in communications with your boss until he or she uses them first.
* Use of emoji and emoticons should fit the nature of your communication. Avoid adding them in messages of a serious nature or something that will become a permanent document.
* Make sure you understand the meaning of the emoji your are sending. Using the wrong one for certain situations can backfire on you. When in doubt, don't use one.
* Don't overuse exclamation points. Think back to grammar 101, and use them accordingly. Too many exclamation points can be overkill.
* The benefit of using the small pictures is they can enhance your intended meaning. Remember what they say about a picture being worth a thousand words. Using them can add emotion to an otherwise emotionless message.
* Think of this form of communication as the modern-day hieroglyphics.
Karen Hickman is a local certified etiquette/protocol consultant and owner of Professional Courtesy. Email questions to email@example.com.