I do a lot of work in Slack. It’s been almost three years since I started working there and can’t remember a world where I needed to wait anywhere from two minutes to two days for someone to get through their inbox and respond to that urgent email. I take it for granted that everyone is there and they tend to respond quickly. Your Slack mileage will differ.
Emoji continues to be one of my favorite work habits. As I wrote earlier, I initially resisted emoji. But the efficiency of the lightweight communication that occurs via emoji and emoji reactions can’t be denied. It also happens to be fun.
In preparation for writing this piece, I went through all of the Slacks I am actively part of and unscientifically examined my most popular used emoji. The following are my go-to emojis. For each, I briefly explain when and why I use them.1
Let’s start with the workhorse emoji:
- ✅ When applied, an action item captured in the prior message is complete. I have several 1:1 channels where all we’re doing is trading action items. Green check means done. Handy.
- 👍 Message acknowledged. I got it.
- 👀 Message received, and I’m looking into it. 🤔 means I’m thinking about it and will likely respond.
- 🎉 Hooray! We did it.
- 👆 I agree with the thing this person just said a lot. 💯 and 👏 are stronger versions of this.
- 🙇♂️. Thank you for doing the thing you just did. I appreciate you.
The rest all ready slightly sillier, my question is: if you were attempting to replicate the feeling or emotion these emoji (hopefully) impart, how would you do it? In words? 🤔
- We just dodged a bullet right there I am telling you.
- You just blew my mind.
- Something related to food just happened.
- 🍜 I am sorry that you are sick.
- Well, that’s settled.
- That… just sucks.
- This place is wonderfully chaotic. It’s just… great.
- This… is awesome.
Emoji seem silly, but that is because they are often exaggerated human expressions. The picture tells a story, and those stories are a few simple keystrokes away. Each time that unicorn spins, I am a small part of a conversation where I’d otherwise be absent. When that penguin dances, I can instantly be a small part of a celebration.
Lastly, and most importantly, yes, I’m an adult, and I can use my words. But each emoji I use is an email not sent.