From entry-level to the C-Suite, from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, employees around the nation are suffering. From the deluge of email.
Email is how we communicate at work. There's no avoiding it, especially with the growth of remote work culture and work-from-home policies. You may rarely see some of your colleagues face to face. Emailing could be your main means of day-to-day communication. So how do you come across as the friendly, warm person that you are?
A smiley face should do the trick. Just a quippy little :-) to establish good rapport and make the exchange feel more friendly.
Bad move. Turns out smiley emojis in work emails are one of the worst moves you can make. Though your intention may be to come off as bubbly and a pleasure to work with, those three little characters have the opposite effect.
Want people to respect you? Then you need to chill out on the emojis. Emojis are not only unprofessional but also could be affecting your colleagues' opinion of you. And not in a good way.
What emojis say about you
These are the results from a new study forebodingly titled "The Dark Side of a Smiley." It was published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. Researchers wanted to know if smiley faces in emails were a "suitable replacement" for a smile. Non-breaking news flash: No, they are not. Smiley faces in email do not have same effect as real, in-person smiles. That seems obvious enough.
But here's the real kicker from the results. Inserting smiley faces in work correspondence makes people on the receiving end of your emails think you're incompetent.
"Perceptions of low competence in turn undermined information sharing," the researchers wrote in their summary. "The adverse effects of smiley use are moderated by the formality of the social context and mediated by perceptions of message appropriateness."
A harmless smiley projects to the other person that you're perhaps less qualified for your job than you really are. As a result, they don't respect you as much or provide you the information you need to do your job well. In turn, you actually may not be able to perform at work as well as you could have because your colleagues aren't helping to set you up for success.
The researchers' summary is grim. It feels as if your usage of the humble smiley emoji could make or break your success at work. In reality, an emoji or two isn't going to kill your career trajectory. But it's still wise to strive to be more mindful of your emoji usage in emails to co-workers. If you're a big emoji fan, try to use them more sparingly. It never hurts to err on the side of professionalism.