There are two types of people in this world — those who think emojis are merely symbols to sprinkle sentences with pizzaz, and the correct people who know that emoji-speak is an entirely separate language. Why risk coming off as angry using a period when you can throw in a quick " :) " to emphasize that all is well?
Well, a new study is about to burst your emoji-loving bubble — but it could help your career. In a series of experiments, researchers found that people who included a smiley face symbol, emoji or emoticon in their work emails were perceived as less competent than those who didn't.
Among 549 people from 29 countries, participants were asked to read anonymous work-related emails — some with smileys and some without — and rate the competence and warmth of the sender. They found that while smileys in an email didn't have an affect on the sender's perceived warmth, they actually had a negative impact on the sender's perceived competence.
This stands in contrast from face-to-face smiles, which have been found to promote both competence and warmth.
What's more, when replying to the messages, participants included more detailed information in their responses to those who didn't include smileys in their email. "We found that the perceptions of low competence if a smiley is included in turn undermined information sharing," said Dr. Ella Glikson, one of the study's authors, in a release.
Readers were also more likely to assume that the sender was a woman when the message included a smiley, though gender didn't have an effect on the sender's perceived levels of warmth or competence.
So while I hate to tell anyone to cut it with the emojis, maybe save them for the happy hour Slack channel or your personal texts, cool? :) If all else fails, you can always use a quick exclamation point to convey friendliness in a work email! Maybe!