Emoticons, which are thought of as sort of silly,when used properly can add clarity to your business e-mail. I don’t use them very often and but when I do it is usually a winky-smiley.
This is a winky-smiley: 😉
Why and When to Use Emoticons
Many programs, will turn the plain text emoticon (a semi-colon, dash and right parenthesis) into the above graphic.
On those rare occasions where I do use them, I have a definite motive and purpose for doing so. Gratuitous overuse of emoticons can be viewed as amateurish, unprofessional or that you are not taking the matter at hand as seriously as you should.
This is why it is so important that emoticons be used sparingly and with discretion when it comes to business e-mails. Emoticons can benefit your communications when used at just the right time.
When would you use an emoticon in a business email?
Here are a few examples of when I will use an emoticon in my business email communications:
- When congratulating a contact on an accomplishment or personal event they have shared with me. Adding a smiley adds to the perception that I am truly happy for them by providing that little visual.
- When I want to make sure that the other side doesn’t take my last comment verbatim or personally. For example, when I coaching a client on something they are doing improperly, I always soften the correction with a positive comment on the benefit the correction will bring followed by a winky-smiley.
- Sarcasm doesn’t relay at all in email. This is where having a winky-smiley after a sarcastic comment gives the other side a clear indication that you are kidding or poking fun. Without a winky-smiley — they may very well take that comment seriously!
Time and Place for Everything
These are just a couple examples where adding a simple emoticon allows you to soften an email’s tone. For the history of and more information on emoticons check out the Wiki page on the subject.