Enterprise communications are a critical and tricky area to perfect. Many professionals struggle to communicate and collaborate with their coworkers on a daily basis, while others seem to know the right thing to say every time. This struggle even extends to CEOs, small business owners and other professionals who are constantly in the spotlight. Even several presidents have had to have public speaking coaches in order to help them deliver national addresses!

For many the way they communicate naturally doesn’t seem to be professional, so they adopt a false persona that doesn’t ring true. Others are simply unfamiliar with what accounts for “professional” communication, and are unsure of what is acceptable and what isn’t. The trick is to act natural – which sometimes means using words, or text, that may not seem business-like – such as emoticons.

While some may feel that emoticons are childish, the truth is that these simple smiley faces and winks tap into a core part of everyone’s personality – their emotions. The psychology of language is just as important as the appearance of language. A smile can get one much further than a spoken word in real life, so why not on paper or through an email?

According to Lifehacker, facial expressions carry significant weight in conveying meaning and ensure that a message comes across as intended. The smile itself is perhaps the most important of all facial expressions.

“We know that smiling is a very powerful gesture; we were doing a research study looking at different symbols, and the symbol that was rated with the highest positive emotional content was the smiley face,” Andrew Newberg, a researcher on the psychology of language, told Lifehacker, “The painting of the Mona Lisa is one particular example of that feeling of calmness.”

So the question remains: When are emoticons appropriate?


A resume is one of the most important and frequently discussed pieces of text-based communication in the business world. There is no set standard for what should or shouldn’t be in one, nor can anyone agree on the form and style that resumes should be written in. As such, knowing when to use a well-placed smiley face or emoticon in one can make one stand out in a positive light. As the popular saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. In the graphics industry, a simple text resume is far less likely to get noticed than one with color and a well-placed wink or “D-face.”

Interoffice email

While many business communications are formal in nature, internal emails and conversations aren’t always, making emoticons perfectly acceptable in day to day communications. Many people may choose not to use them, but there is no true social rule against it. A well-timed emote in a conversation can convey meaning that might otherwise be lost on a coworker, or ensure that someone realizes that a comment was said as a joke.

While this doesn’t mean one can say things that could potentially get him or her fired and pass it off with a smiley face, it does help support clear communication in the written form.


The truth is that using emoticons in the professional space can be appropriate at any time, it just depends on the recipient of the message. Adding a smiley face to an invoice could push the point home that a small business owner was happy with the job done, while one in a company-wide email can be perfect for discussing a celebration or joyous event in an employee’s life, such as a birthday or marriage. Ultimately, this comes down to personal preference and whether or not the intended meaning will be appreciated by the recipient.

Chris Donaldson is a technology writer for Funmoods.com. A self-described social media fanatic, Chris spends his days researching the latest developments and trends in the industry.