You may have heard that yesterday was World Emoji Day, and if you somehow forgot to celebrate, take a moment to 😆, 🎉, and have a 🍹.
For their own celebration, Apple announced that they will be releasing 56 new emoji later in the year, adding to the thousands of emoji already available. And, yes, the plural of emoji is emoji.
These pigmented pictograms have hijacked instant messaging, making it easy to sum up an entire sentence or feeling with just one handy hieroglyph. Who among us has not sent a “😘” to a loved one, or used the “🇨🇦” emoji to festoon their Canada Day posts on social media? Even if we don’t use them ourselves, we see and understand them every day.
When it comes to communications and the professional world, what place, if any, do emoji have? Certainly, social media has made the tiny icons an established part of the online lexicon, but outside of a tweet, are they appropriate or obnoxious?
The most basic emoji, the “😊”, “😉”, or “👍” are widely used and fairly innocuous. They can be a great tool for taking the guess-work out of deciphering the intention of an e-mail, or be a quick way to respond to a co-worker’s question when time is tight.
The more “decorative” emoji, like our party symbols above can be a great way to punctuate a message of congratulations to a client or colleague. Try to steer clear of the alcoholic beverages, but a “🍾” for a promotion or new contract is perfectly fine.
Apple’s newest fleet of emoji are all about inclusion. There is “Woman in headscarf”, “Bearded person”, and even a tasteful “Woman breastfeeding”. These additions are a sign that Apple takes diversity seriously and is striving to be more considerate of the needs of its users. We don’t think that any of these would necessarily come in handy for work-related conversations, but it’s nice to know they’re there.
Another recent addition is “Starry-eyed smiley face”, a symbol you could count on to express your awe or admiration of a recently completed project or presentation. It’s not quite as intimate as “Heart-eyes smiley face”, making it more appropriate for the workplace.
“Exploding-head smiley face” could be a way to react to learning a surprising new fact, showing that your mind has literally been blown. Just don’t let it reveal your lack of knowledge or naiveté.
As for the “Vomiting smiley face”…just, no.
The key message here is to use emoji sparingly and judiciously. Think of emoji like exclamation marks. They certainly grab your attention and can change the perception of the message, sometimes beyond your control. So, if you have a doubt, or are not sure if using an emoji is appropriate, that’s a good sign to say that it most likely is not. Emoji are meant to be lighthearted and fun, so use them thusly and all will be “👌”.