A new study suggests that using emojis repeatedly in your work communications could lower your standing among colleagues. Emojis are fun and expressive, but they could hurt your career.
Researchers in the United States conducted experiments with hundreds of Americans and found that employees who used emojis in emails, Zoom profiles, or even company logos on T-shirts were perceived as less powerful than those who used only words.
“Today, we are all accustomed to communicating with pictures, and the social networks make it both easy and fun. Our findings, however, raise a red flag: In some situations, especially in a work or business environment, this practice may be costly, because it signals low power,” wrote study authors Elinor Amit and Shai Danziger, of Tel Aviv University, Israel, and Pamela Smith, of the University of California, San Diego.
Study authors suggested, “Think twice before sending an emoji or picture to people in your organization or in any other context in which you wish to be perceived as powerful.”
The best thing to do is to save the smiley faces for your friends and family.
One experiment asked participants to imagine themselves attending a company retreat. On one hand, they were told a worker wore a T-shirt with the company’s name on it, and on the other hand, they were told the worker wore a picture logo.
The respondents believed that the employee wearing the written logo on his T-shirt had more power.
Participants in an experiment were asked to choose one of two co-participants as their representative in a competitive game designed for people with a lot of social power.
Apparently, one of the participants has a pictorial profile, while the other has a written profile. 62% of the participants chose the co-participant with the written profile to represent them.
Research findings were published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes in March of this year.
“Why do pictures represent low power? Research has shown that visual messages are often seen as signals of desire for social proximity. Separate research shows that less powerful people desire social proximity more than powerful people. Therefore, showing that you would like social proximity using pictures is essentially signaling that you are less powerful,” Amit said in a Tel Aviv University news release.
Typically, such signals do not matter in close relationships, such as in family communications,” Amit added. Nevertheless, power relations are prevalent in many arenas, particularly at work or in business, and we need to be aware of the impact our messages have on recipients. Our results raise a warning: Think twice before sending an emoji or a picture when you want to signal power.”