Are winking, laughing, and frowning faces professional? Is it OK to use them in your work emails, texts, and instant messages? The answer is “maybe.” It really depends on where you work and who you work for.

Some managers think emojis and emoticons are fine, while others see them as inappropriate. A recent survey by OfficeTeam (a staffing firm) revealed the following:

  • 40% of managers think that a smiley face now and then is OK.   🙂
  • 39% of managers think they’re unprofessional and inappropriate.   🙁
  • 21% of managers think they’re great. Use them as much as you want!   🙂

So you should determine how your manager feels about emojis and emoticons before you start using them. See if other people are doing it or just ask one of your coworkers. And as a general rule, you shouldn’t use them with customers or people you don’t know very well.

Also, even if it’s OK for you to use them, remember that they can be misinterpreted. If you use really obscure ones, people might not know what they represent. And studies have suggested that it’s not unusual for people to view the same emoji in different ways. (I mean, it’s not always clear what emotion is being conveyed. Is that face shocked or surprised? Is it smiling or smirking?)

So go ahead and use emojis and emoticons at work, as long as they’re acceptable in your office and your meaning is clear. Just try not to go overboard! Even though they’re kind of entertaining, too many emojis can be confusing and distracting.   🙁


Put an emoji on it: Should you use emojis in business communication? (2016, January 7). Retrieved from

Wolper, J. (2016). Smile! (Or don’t). Talent Development, 70(11), 18.