Much of our correspondence is done via text and email (seriously, if you actually call us on the phone, who even are you?), but one of the problems with this is that emotions can be difficult to interpret. “Okay” without a period is very different than “okay” with a period (and don’t get us started on “k”). Ah, the nuances of the English language. In order to soften the blow of way harsh punctuation, you may find yourself resorting to emojis.
But even though emojis are now an integral part of our lexicon, a new study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science has found you probably (definitely) shouldn’t use them in your work correspondence. At least initially. That’s because while you think a smiley face after you type “just wanted to touch base” for the millionth time that day conveys an actual smile, people see it as a Bat Signal of incompetence.
Researchers asked participants to read work emails from strangers and rate the person’s warmth and competence. When an emoji was used, the person sending the email wasn’t perceived as warmer but was perceived as less competent.
“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,” researchers said. “For now, at least, a smiley can only replace a smile when you already know the other person. In initial interactions, it is better to avoid using smileys.”
Related: We have literally never typed the word smiley so many times.