I love emojis. They help me get my meaning across with my otherwise halting writing style, especially in text messaging. For people with communication issues, being able to use a supplemental graphical depiction of tone can make a huge difference in getting thoughts and feelings successfully out of their brains.
Alas, emojis are considered to be unprofessional in business writing, creating an invisible obstacle for those with cognitive or social impairments. Coupled with this is the general attention deficit of most busy people, resulting in the “TLDR” approach to emails or articles.
If we’re expected to be more and more productive with less and less time, wouldn’t it make sense to allow certain communication shortcuts?
“I’m pleased with the results.” vs. “^_^”
As someone who thinks in pictures, the emoji gives me an instantaneous message, while the written sentence causes me to analyze the words:
- Are they being sarcastic?
- Is “pleased” like “satisfied”? Or like “happy”?
- Are they only pleased with the results, but didn’t approve of the method?
I’m on the end of the spectrum that would be considered to have strong communication abilities, but I still find myself unable to perceive tone most of the time. A friend of mine never uses emojis in his texts, and this is usually the result.
I spent a year as the head of Communications for the IT department of our local university, and while I loved my job, and I did it well (as far as I could tell…), my boss’ messages never conveyed tone. I could never tell if she was angry or happy, and since our meetings consisted of her either telling me that I “got her” or throwing papers around the room in frustration, both of these could have been valid possibilities.
Remember, that’s with strong communication abilities. For someone who has a more difficult time than I do, functioning in the social environment of an office job can become much more difficult, or even impossible.
So, I know it might seem childish, but next time someone insists on using emojis in their business correspondence, take a moment to consider that they might be trying to do you a favor. ~K