We all use email in business, but rarely do employees receive any type of formal training in the do’s and don’ts of what makes business emails professional, including the use of emoji. Emoji are generally not appropriate in business emails, although there are a few exceptions.

Use emoji only when emailing people with whom you already have an established (and mutually respected) business email relationship, such as coworkers, boss and vendors.

Use them very sparingly to congratulate someone (for example “Congratulations on reaching your team’s fundraising goal!”) or in a thank-you email ("Hi Bill, Thanks so much for bringing bagels to the staff meeting this morning! It was so thoughtful and kind of you, and enjoyed by all!")

Select an emoji with clear meaning, such as the variety of happy faces. Avoid anything that may be misconstrued by the recipient (smileys blowing a kiss, hearts) or an emoji that may offend in other cultures such as the thumbs up and OK sign (You never know who the email may be forwarded to.)

And in all cases, only use one emoji, not multiples.

Never use an emoji in the following professional emails:

• With prospective clients

• In a “thank you for the interview” email

• With anyone you are emailing for the first time. It can diminish your professionalism.

• Do not use a smiley-face emoji to “mend” a previously sent email that may have been gossipy, or in attempt to “repair” a strained or broken business relationship with the recipient.

Kim Purscell is a Certified Etiquette Consultant, president and founder of Etiquette Matters. She can be reached at Kim@EtiquetteMatters.us.

Recommended for you

Load comments