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Is it ok to use emoticons in business emails? - Lingostan Forum


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Is it ok to use emoticons in business emails?

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  • Is it ok to use emoticons in business emails?

    What do you think about using emoticons in business communication? I started to work on the web 15 years ago, and I remember at the beginning communication was very formal, you could expect always the usual structured email: "dear" and "look foward to hearing from you" "best regards", and I mean this both in English and in the Italian equivalent as well. It was very rare to find someone using emoticons, even just a simple keyboard one like " : ) ", and this could happen only when there was a solid business relationship with someone, when the level of confidence was stronger. Now, I see you can get an emoticon even in the first or second email you swap with a company and, even worse, you get the string of one hundred question and exclamation marks (did you receive my email?????????????" . (really low level)

    Personally I dont' think some emoticons are all that bad, they can avoid a lot of misunderstanding, but I perceive like a resolution of getting rid of emails very quickly, it's not unsual to find company employees who answer you "ok, we can do it" (just an example) without even adding a "speak soon" or you name, and that I think it's bad, you see differences in companies if they care or not for their clients also by this attitude.

    Surely the level of formality in emails has dwindled a lot over the last 10 years or so, and to this Social networks contributed a lot (we almost seem like all friends, and if you chat with someone on Facebook the level of formaly will lower even more), but I think starting an email with "dear..." and ending with "let us know if we can be of further assistance" it's still the best way to build a sound working relashonship with someone.

  • #2
    I agree with most of your points, but it depends. If I make the first contact with someone I know nothing about, I'm usually quite formal, but if I reply to an email that has come from someone, I already have some ideas on who I'm talking to, on the personality of the human being behind the email. At this stage I already start to adjust my own style according to what I see. Though, of course, no emoticons at that stage yet. That can some later, after the rapport has been well established.


    • #3
      Business English is very complicated in this respect and it matters as to the relationship that you have with your fellow professional. Irina is correct, if you make first contact with someone, it is normal to be extra formal just to see what their style is. Think of it like a digital handshake.

      However, once you have made contact and have established a more connected relationship, it is easy to see whether or not emoticons are appropriate or not.

      Judge every situation as it comes and, as a rule, err on the side of caution!


      • #4
        Even a string of question marks would be preferable to the total radio silence...


        • #5
          I'm with Irina in general.
          they can avoid a lot of misunderstanding
          For me, that's the good point about emoticons, whit I hated at first, but finally I've found useful to expose nuances, especially in other languages (avoinding the risk of being too harsh or serious or... whatever...)


          • #6
            I'm with Zak and Irina - I'd never use emoticons until I knew the recipient really well. It's all about being professional (for the sme reason until I knew a client well I'd always go dressed in a suit and tie). But then I've been retired for several years so maybe I'm out of touch...