Is it ever okay to add an emoji to a business email or text?

If you’re of a certain age, you probably think no, not appropriate.

A younger person might say, Yaaasss, absolutely! 😀 

Here’s the scoop.

Studies show that people read email in a negative tone, even if it wasn’t written that way.  Imagine reading an email with the words, “You’re welcome.” Is that sarcastic, a question, or genuine?  

If left up to the reader, they may read negativity into an email unintentionally.   So, perhaps there is a place for an emoticon in a business email or text, but let’s identify some rules.


  • If you use an emoticon, use only smiley faces.  Use words to convey any other message i.e. a frowny face comes off as sarcasm.  Right?!  Not sadness.
  • Use :-) vs. 🙂  An unconverted smiley face is more professional looking and is guaranteed to appear correctly on all platforms.
  • Don’t ask an emoticon to deliver bad news nicely.  Pick up the phone instead or write more carefully.

What do you think? :-) or :-(