Sometimes employees don’t realize that their conduct is sending mixed signals to their co-workers. Something as simple as an emoticon can be misinterpreted. According to an article in the Huffington Post, a survey found that 71% of women and 90% of men said that receiving a winky face indicates the possibility of romance or a first date.
Although there are many benefits to email communication, there are several drawbacks as well. Email tone is difficult to understand and often leads to misunderstandings. Add to that emoticons, and you may have just inadvertently hit on your co-worker. Such mixed signals can lead to a lot of awkwardness around the office, and even escalate to a report of sexual harassment. This is quite serious because in Illinois you can personally be held liable for sexual harassment.
It’s best to always remain professional in your email communications. You may want to wait and revisit sending an email if you are upset. Watch your use of colors, symbols and capital letters. Keep your messages clear and concise, the shorter the better. And of course, refrain from using emoticons.