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Making the Case for Emoticons
By: Christine Geraci
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Hi, everybody. My name is Christine, and I'm a habitual emoticon user. 

Yes, I do use emoticons in work emails with regularity. In fact, emails, Facebook messages, comments, and tweets rarely skate by without the presence of strategically placed punctuation that depicts some form of human emotion.
 
I understand some might view this practice as silly, or even downright unprofessional. 
 
But as it turns out, it's not. At least, not always.
 
Check out this article on 99U from Behance about "Why Emoticons (and emotional cues) work." The post details a very intriguing assertion from Daniel Goleman, author of "Social Intelligence:" People naturally place a negativity bias on email at the neural level. Because there is no way to enhance digital communication with natural voice tones or facial expressions, we all just assume toward the negative. 
 
The post also includes some great suggestions for making sure you can communicate effectively in the digital realm with the least chance of creating and/or fanning a flame. One of those suggestions is to consider using emoticons.
 
Indeed, a day is coming soon where our digital devices will be able to read the emotional tones of our writing. But until that day comes, I'm happy there's at least one affirmation for emoticons. 
 
Of course, the use of emoticons shouldn't come without rules. Here are a few of my own, in case you find them useful:
 
1. Don't use too many emoticons in one message. If you're ending each sentence with one, you're doing it wrong. Your message shouldn't need more than one or two at the most. If it does, then you're writing it wrong. 
 
2. Don't overdo it. A smile is a smile is a smile. There are regular smiles: :-), and there are big smiles: :-D. But multiple parentheses for the expression of one smile just looks cartoonish and thus, childish: :))))))))))))))). 
 
3. In professional emails, it's probably best to steer clear of graphic emoticons. Stick to the basic successions of keyboard characters. If said characters automatically form into a graphic (and this can happen), try leaving out the hyphen for the nose of the emoticon. A basic emoticon may or may not look childish to someone. A graphic will definitely look childish to anyone. 
 
4. Don't use emoticons just to use them. If the tone of the email is generally happy and upbeat, you may not need emoticons at all. But if your language runs the risk of being misinterpreted, choose your emoticon wisely. Once again, overuse, or use out of context, appears childish.
 
Then again, I acknowledge there are folks out there who would say it's ridiculous to even consider using emoticons at all, anywhere. What do you think? Do you ever use emoticons in your professional digital communication? 


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About the Author
Christine Geraci is the Social Media/Promotions Specialist at MVP Health Care in Schenectady, NY. Connect with her on Twitter @christinegeraci.
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