In today's fast paced business world, we send tons of e-mails and text messages daily. Some of us send and receive hundreds a day even. Of course, not all of them are important and often times they are quickly pounded out as soon as the thought crosses one's mind. Once we began sending e-mails from our phones and computers alongside instant messages, tweets and text messages the lines started to blur.
It is now much more common to see quicker, not quite as well thought out e-mails or e-mails that even read like a text message. Many of us then have the urge to insert text language such as "LOL" or emoticons in an e-mail. It can get tricky in business though, especially to the newer generations who are just now entering the business world after many years of quick text messages throughout their life.
I personally have seen emoticons and this type of language viewed multiple ways in my career. Sometimes it is looked down upon as unprofessional, and other times it is viewed as a great way to come across with a friendly client and is used to build a relationship with them. So what is the correct answer? I'm not sure, however I do follow some quick guidelines that I'll share, and hopefully you will share some of your own.
1. I never draw first blood. I let a customer, contact or fellow employee use text language or emoticons first, and then I can relate back to them by doing the same.
2. Keep your boss out of it. I will not send an emoticon or text word of any kind to any of my superiors, even if they have drawn first blood. You never know what that e-mail may look like months down the road when they pull it up looking for something, and I never like coming across as unprofessional.
3. Play it safe. If I'm not sure, I don't. I think reputation is pretty important to most of us, and who knows if your e-mail will be forwarded on to 20 or more people for some reason or another. Then, all it takes is one person who appalls them to see your message and you are viewed negatively.
Most of the time between 8am and 5pm, I have to cut them out of my life entirely just to be on the safe side. Of course, if I am given the chance and the coast is clear I think it can be used as a nice gesture for my clients to feel more comfortable with me overall. Let's here what you have to think! :)
Dan Ripperden , Strategic Account Executive
Great America Networks Conferencing, LLC
15700 103rd Street, Suite 110
Lemont, Illinois 60439
Office: (312) 432-5328
Fax: (630) 633-0390