Smiley Emojis in Work Emails Affect Perception of Competency

Do you use the smiley face or comparable emojis in work-related emails? It might not have the intended effect, according to a new study.

Individuals who used smiley faces in work emails were viewed as less competent, though the use of an emoji didn’t affect perception of warmth, according to a joint Ben-Gurion University, University of Haifa and Amsterdam University report.

“People tend to assume that a smiley is a virtual smile, but the findings of this study show that in the case of the workplace, at least as far as initial ‘encounters’ are concerned, this is incorrect,” Dr. Ella Glikson, a post-doctorate fellow at BGU, said in a statement.

When emails didn’t feature a smiley, responses included more details and “content-related information,” the report found.

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With regard to gender, if an email featured a smiley face and the sender’s identity was unknown, those receiving the email were more likely to believe the email came from a woman.

“For now, at least, a smiley can only replace a smile when you already know the other person,” Glikson said. “In initial interactions, it is better to avoid using smileys, regardless of age or gender.”