If you’re worried about “seeming mean” (one of my primary sources of anxiety) try writing down the confident version of your thought and then maybe add an emoji after. For example, when giving feedback on a design, you might say: “This feels noisy and could benefit from a few refinements, what if we get rid of the meta data on this screen? 🤔” ← that little guy lets them know you’re simply thinking, not being a big scary grim reaper with a critical axe in your hand. Or “Definitely didn’t mean for this to be the final copy! 😬” when you’re worried about seeming defensive but simply want to mention your intentions.
Unnecessary Qualifiers
Tara Mann

Does the use of an emoji in place of words convey a different sentiment than the words themselves?

Emojis are certainly more playful, but they also introduce a layer of subjectivity into the message they accompany. As someone whose own use of emojis in everyday communications is objectively gratuitous, I’d argue that employing them as a means to “soften” your message or generally inform the tone is just another apologetic manifestation of a lack of confidence in what you are communicating.

Emojis or no emojis, it’s best to operate under the assumption of good intent when communicating amongst colleagues. You couldn’t have said it better, “people almost never think you’re mean, or arrogant, or overly confident. They are usually happy to get your opinion, and having honest dialogue …is essential to healthy collaboration.”