The Smiley Face Emoji Is Frowned Upon At Work

I think that’s 3 emoji references in the title?

Show of hands, how many of you receive an email from a co-worker at least once a week that contains a smiley face, or some other sort of emoji? Probably most of you. Heck, in this business we can almost have entire email exchanges in fluent emoji-speak, but that’s another story. Texting is a fine place for emoji, and so is the discount pillow bin at Wal-Mart, but the workplace is another story.

A reason people use emoji is because tone of voice or sarcasm doesn’t exactly translate (at all) through text. That’s probably why we have “professional talk” in emails, but always talk to those same colleagues in a more relaxed vocabulary when we meet in the break room. But, it looks like emoji don’t always reliably “increase perceptions of warmth and actually decrease perceptions of competence.” In other words, not only do we look like we’re being smart-___es, but we actually make ourselves look dumb in the process. These results were found after asking about 500 people about their emoji-use habits. Emails that did not contain emoji were actually more detailed, including responses or explanations, and better conveyed the point of the email.

Something else they discovered was that when the gender of a test-email was kept secret, emails containing emoji were assumed to be from a woman. So there’s that.

Do your co-workers use emoji regularly? Print this story and hang it in the break room, but make sure you draw a smiley face on it first.



More from Mark S. Allen In The Morning

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