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Smileys in work email
Is it okay to use smileys in work email? I figure by now, most Internet users are familiar with them to some degree. I keep my messages to customers very professional, but sometimes it is more appropriate to use a smiley than an exclamation mark or nothing at all. Given the lack of professionalism in most email I see, I can't imagine appropriate smiley usage to be a problem - any thoughts?

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I use them rarely myself in work emails. If it is to a customer then only if I have a good rapport with them and even then very rarely.
I also rarely use them in email's to sales rep's but have been thinking of late that I should include more so I don't always seem so serious and that I am a bit more relaxed about things that my emails may seem.

Yes, having a good rapport is generally a prerequisite for using smileys. But even with relaxed customers, I find I tend to be rather formal. I send a nicely formatted (plain text, of course) message that explains everything and in reply I get a casual one line reply with abbreviated words, no signature, no salutation, no valediction, etc.

I remember the good old days when people knew about netiquette and actually followed the guidelines...

This has always been something I have avoided doing ABSOLUTLY. I just find that it dilutes the profesionality in the email.

It may also have something to do with my inability to make humour work in an email. Theres been many emails I have sent with what I thought was humour and the other person was offended by it, or put out. (Im not even talking about humour that rests on Political correctedness at all)

Admitadly most of those emails were between friends and myself. Often girls I was interested in at the time...

But either way, Humour and work should probably be kept seperate. one mans humour is another mans insult.

The other question that comes to mind regarding smileys, is whether it's okay to use them in letters (you know - those old-fashioned messages that involve actual paper). It's not like I'd be using ;-) or anything fancy in a message - just :-) when it seems appropriate and adds something to the message...

As a general rule I often type smilies in the first draft of emails that I write. Simply because I often do all sorts of shorthand that I use when writing for myself.

Then I make a decision when I do the rewrite based on target audience and what the email is. If it is a joke being sent, then I tend not to care too much. If it is an email where I want people to pay attention, even if it is just for friends, then I probably wouldn't.

I have found that now that I use IM more, I have been falling into the smiley trap. It is something I want to pay more attention to.

If I am writing regarding a work issue, so a communication that may end up tabled if the customer ever went legal on us in the future, I would never use smileys.

If I am writing an informal message as an 'acquaintance' (for example I send a "Happy System Administrators Day" message to the guys that admin at a site where we have a few boxes installed), I may use smileys if it would not be likely to be overstepping the mark.

I use them on informal non-work related messages around the office, but never on formal communications.

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