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The 5 Pillars of Proper Emoji Etiquette


Nadia Tatlow

CEO - 22 Mar, 2017


You may have noticed that we love emojis here at Shift - but let's face it - proper etiquette when it comes to crying-so-hard-you're-laughing versus crying versus sweating can sometimes be tough to navigate.

On one hand, they can be used to convey thoughts and emotions that might not come across well in written text. For example, they’re great for sending moral support to your fashion-challenged, socks and sandals wearing friend.

On the other hand, using a poop emoji and a red-cheeked smiley to explain to your boss how embarrassed you are about the unusually low sales numbers last month might not be your best move.

How’s your emoji etiquette? Do you know when emojification is fine and when it’s frowned upon? Read on for tips on when it is or isn’t appropriate to emojify your messages.

Emoji Etiquette Guidelines

There are a few general rules that you should keep in mind when you’re thinking about planting an emoji in your message. There are, of course, exceptions, but when you’re in doubt, these guidelines should keep you out of trouble.

Don’t use emojis if the situation is serious

If the topic of your message is of a serious or somber nature, it’s probably best to leave emojis out of it. In this case they will convey a childish attitude and make it look like you don’t understand (or don’t care about) the depth of the situation.

Go ahead and get crazy with close friends

Your close friends already know you through and through, so you shouldn’t have any reservations when it comes to showing off your preference for communicating with tiny pictures instead of actual words.

Stick to the basics with acquaintances

It’s not completely out of line to use an emoji or two when you’re talking to someone you don’t know well, but it’s best to keep their use to a minimum. You should also stick with the most common emojis, like smiling and frowning faces. You want to use them to accent points in your message. Using too many will make you look a bit flakey to someone who doesn’t know you.

Let superiors set the standard

When it comes to exchanging messages with your boss or other superiors at work, it’s best to sit back and see what they do first. If they don’t show you any emoji love you’re probably better off following their lead. You shouldn’t be afraid to use a few now and then if they do, but don’t go overboard. Remember, you’re in a professional environment.

Know when to say when

No matter who you’re talking to, there’s going to be a point where you stop looking like a trendy techno-geek and start looking like a lunatic who’s lost control of his or her basic communication skills. As a rule of thumb, if your sentences contain more emojis than actual words, it might be time to seek outside help.

Hopefully, these quick tips help you draw the line between emoji-appropriate and emoji-free zones. Good luck, friends!