Beware! Do Not Use Smileys in Work-Related Emails!
Smileys are everywhere in social media and even in emails. Common notion points to the idea that smileys and smile could mean the same thing-friendly expression-and are believed to create a positive impression. But a new study is now saying otherwise, especially when smileys are used in work-related emails.
According to the study conducted by researchers from University of Haifa and Amsterdam University, use of smileys in work-related emails does not help one make a positive first impression at all. In fact, a smiley is not regarded the same way as a smile, and has a negative impact on the initial impression created in formal work-related emails.
This new finding was confirmed by Dr. Arik Cheshin of the University of Haifa, one of the authors of the study.
Cheskin said, “While an actual smile has a positive impact on creating an initial impression, adding a smiley can harm the person who included it in their email.”
In addition, the study asserts that smileys used in initial interactions especially in emails do not influence evaluation of competence and friendliness.
The research was published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
The Study and Results
To examine the impact of smileys in creating a first impression, the researchers invited 549 participants from different countries.
The study included asking the participants to read work-related emails from someone they did not know. They were then asked to evaluate the competence and warmth of the person who sent the email. There were two types of emails; one related to formal work matters and the other one to less formal aspects of work. Aside from that, some emails had inclusion of smileys and some did not. Some emails included a photograph of the sender smiling while in others, the sender was not smiling.
The results are interesting.
The researchers found that for smiling photos that were included in some emails, the sender was perceived as more competent and friendly. However, when emails on formal work-related matters included a smiley, the sender was perceived as less competent. This means the smiley did not influence the evaluation of the sender’s friendliness.
What about smileys in less formal matters?
The result showed the smileys led the sender to be perceived as more friendly, but did not influence the evaluation of competence.
Interestingly, the study discovered that when the participants were asked to respond to emails on formal matters, their answers were more detailed and they included more content-related information when the emails did not include a smiley.
Use of smileys have something to do with gender as well. The researchers found that recipients were more likely to assume that the email was sent by a woman if it included a smiley, though it had no influence on the evaluation of competence or friendliness.