With increasingly blurred lines between work and private, work requests being sent via Whatsapp, and people forming close relationships with their colleagues, it is perhaps no wonder that casual communication habits are finding their way into the workplace.
One of those habits continuously up for debate is the use of emojis in office communication, with supporters saying it helps them express their feelings behind the message, while critics find it unprofessional.
A recently published study on the matter took a different approach, sidestepping people’s personal opinions on emojis and focusing instead on the actual consequences of using a smiley face emoji in work-related emails.
A series of experiments with 549 participants from 29 different countries showed that using smileys in your emails could be damaging your career as it negatively impacts the receiver’s perception of you. “Contrary to actual smiles, smileys do not increase perceptions of warmth and actually decrease perceptions of competence,” the researchers state in a press release.
Moreover, since the receiver of your smiley-faced email is likely to perceive you as less competent, this means they’ll be less helpful in their reply. The study participants included more details and content-related information in their response when an email did not include a smiley.
The researchers conclude that people are wrong to assume a smiley is a virtual smile when it comes to the workplace and advise to avoid them in initial interactions.
Perhaps next time you find yourself desperate to convey your friendliness or happy feelings, consider picking up the phone or having the conversation face-to-face. Regardless of your thoughts on emojis, swapping your keyboard for your voice may be more effective than you think.