To Smiley Or Not To Smiley: Email Etiquette For Gen-Y

To Smiley Or Not To Smiley: Email Etiquette For Gen-Y
Strategy
Like Us On Facebook
Like Us On Facebook

Generation-Y has grown up in an ever-changing world, with the Internet and all of its corollaries permanently integrated into our lives.

As we enter into the business world, we’re forced to learn, like generations before us, the protocol and etiquette that comes with it. However, what is different with Gen-Y is that there are now seemingly endless Internet or computer-based situations that come into question. What should you post on social media? Can your resume be a Google Doc? Etc.

For people in the modern professional world, one of the most perplexing of all the virtual dos and don’ts has to be email etiquette. Gen-Y grew up in the world of AIM & MySpace, where Internet slang became our second language. LOL, BRB, TTYL, HAHA are just some examples of the common vernacular that has taken over technology and pop culture. The word “emoticon” is so commonplace that Microsoft Word didn’t even put a red squiggle line underneath it when I typed it. These components of the technology driven world we live in help us to integrate human expression and emotion into an intrinsically inanimate medium.

So what is the proper protocol when using them professionally? While we want to remain appropriate when corresponding with potential clients, coworkers and customers, we don’t want to seem cold or rude either. Words can be easily misconstrued through emails and texts because of the aforementioned lack of emotional context in these media. So the concern as to whether or not we should use the Internet slang and emoticons necessarily arises.

My opinion is that like many problems that face us in life, it is situational. Are you emailing a potential boss? Probably not the best situation for an LOL. Are you emailing a new client? While you might want to convey a friendly nature and demonstrate your customer service — it might not be the best idea. It is a tricky situation, because while putting a smiley face into your email might show that you’re friendly, depending on who the recipient is, he or she may not take you as seriously for doing so.

tumblr_ll5sx0Qkt91qarmz7o1_500

However, I don’t think that it’s the end of the world to use slang or smiley faces in certain situations. For instance, if you’re a few emails deep with a certain person and the context is friendly and lighthearted, there is really no harm in sending a smiley face. Or if someone sends you the first “LOL” or “Haha,” it’s okay to reciprocate it…it may flat out be rude not to. I also think it’s important to keep your audience in mind. If you are emailing with a person much older than you, then the use of slang or emoticons might not go over so well. If you are emailing with a fellow Gen-Yer, then I’d say probably anything goes as we are all so inundated with this bullsh*t that we aren’t going to judge you for it.

I wouldn’t use any profanity-slang (STFU, OMFG, FML) in an email unless you are writing to a friend or co-worker. Even with a co-worker though, you have to be careful nowadays, as certain companies can filter through emails and penalize you for it. Chances are if it’s #NSFW, it’s probably just that.

I recently saw someone tweet, “The number of exclamation points in someone’s email is inversely proportional to how seriously I take them.” Well, I take issue with that and I’ll let my friend Ralph Waldo Emerson explain why: “Nothing great was ever accomplished without enthusiasm.”

exclamation points

Exclamation points are basically the only non-emoticon/slang way to show enthusiasm within an email. Without the use of them, emails can sound cold, hard and robotic. Why hate on someone’s enthusiasm? Exclamations are a sign that the sender really wants to impress and/or show you that they are excited about communicating with you. I take the stand that they are perfectly acceptable in emails, as many times as you’d like to use them.

At the end of the day, it’s really a personal decision, do you want to err on the side of caution, but potentially come off as cold and impersonal? Or would you rather take a chance and send a smiley, but potentially come off as unprofessional? It comes down to establishing your own personal “email personality” that’s consistent with your real life one, and that will allow people to recognize, connect with you and allow for positive, productive communication.

Share Tweet
React
Like Us On Facebook
Like Us On Facebook

Kayla Inglima

Kayla is an intellectual, comical, organized mess. She believes that filters are only for coffee & Instagram - hence she says what is on her mind at all times. She likes sushi and wine and being cynical while remaining a likable human. Graduating from Monmouth University in New Jersey, she now seems to put that Communication degree to good use. Find her on the Elite Daily "Who We Are" page, Facebook, Twitter and, most importantly, Instagram (@kayglee), where she has a variety of awesome photos of food and other shenanigans.

More In Strategy

Strategy Laura Argintar

College Job Site Helps Students Find Jobs They Can Balance With Class

Looking for a way to battle that awkward Thanksgiving conversation about your future plans after graduation? Want to get a head start on saving up for your own place? Enter Campus Job. Campus Job is the largest online marketplace that connects students with part-time jobs and internships. It’s live at every single college and grad school […]

Strategy Samantha O'Connor

5 Types Of Professional Bridges We All Eventually Burn Throughout Our Careers

What do 20-something interns, 30-something associates and 40-something CEOs have in common? They’ve all made a few enemies and burned a professional bridge or two along the way while climbing the corporate ladder. That’s right; despite what your conscience tells you, you’re not the only one with a professional rival. It’s something that’s not usually broadcast […]

Strategy Jamelle Sanders

Millennial Debt Prescription: 5 Ways To Rid Yourself Of Debt

As a business coach and Millennial, I am always researching strategies to improve my financial acumen and to empower me for even greater financial freedom. Sadly, I do not meet many other Millennials who share this belief or concern. Research shows that more Millennials are taking steps to secure their financial futures. However, what we […]

Strategy Joshua Fechter

10 Ways To Get Your Dream Job At A Top Tech Company

We all want an amazing career, but wanting something isn’t always enough to get it. And if that something is a job at a top tech company, your life just got a whole lot harder. Even though just getting an interview at a top technology company is extremely hard, there are ways to make it […]

Strategy Joe Belsterling

3 Things You Need To Know Before Crowdfunding Your Startup

More and more startups and entrepreneurs are turning to crowdfunding these days and not just equity crowdfunding (i.e. Wefunder), but rather, perk crowdfunding (i.e. Kickstarter and Indiegogo). Crowdfunding can be a great tool for startups and provides much more than just funds (e.g. market validation, a loyal customer base, early adopter market, etc.), especially for younger, […]

Also On Elite

Humor

Hilarious Snowman Halloween Prank Is Back And Better Than Ever (Video)

Though it began several years ago, the Scary Snowman Prank is still going strong. This year, the guys behind the prank decided to start their fun a little early, just in time for Halloween. The snowman was set up outside of Style Newport on a busy pedestrian street in Newport, RI, and at first glance, it simply looks […]

Dating

13 Ways To Avoid Claiming Creeper Status Around The Ladies

After consulting my girlfriends over the years, I came to understand what not to do when it comes to hitting on girls. I would hear endless so-called “creeper” stories that were never dull, and as a guy, the last thing you want to do is be considered one of this kind because of one wrong […]

Life

40 Reasons Why You Love Your Bed Way More Than Your Friends

Leaving your bed is never an easy task because no matter how much sleep you get, it’s typically never enough. It’s a warm and comfortable place and one where you can truly be yourself. You can lie in all your self-pity, hungoverness and Seamless crumbs and not have to explain a damn thing to anyone! New […]

World

Man Kills Roommate And Has Sex With Her Body Before Getting A Haircut

A Florida man was arrested at a barber shop when police say he decided to get a haircut after killing his roommate (pictured above) and having sex with her corpse. Bryan Santana, 20, of Orlando confessed to choking and stabbing Shelby Fazio, 23, Tuesday morning. His arrest report reads, He stated that he later had […]

Humor

Guy Cries After Wisdom Tooth Surgery Because Beyoncé Never Showed Up (Video)

There was once a time when people under the influences of extremely powerful painkillers could ride out their post-wisdom teeth psychosis in private, but then someone decided to equip every cellphone with a video camera and ruin the fun for everyone. Obviously when I say “everyone,” I’m referring to the people with swollen faces who […]

Envision

These Guys Drive Around And Do Homeless People’s Laundry For Free

Have you done your good deed for the day? Two Australian guys named Nick and Lucas took it upon themselves to found a charity geared toward helping the homeless. The organization is called Orange Sky Laundry and their mission is to improve the “hygiene standards of the Australian homeless.” Orange Sky Laundry provides mobile laundry […]