I recently read an article indicating that using emoticons in professional correspondence might make a wrong first impression. The author shared a recent study published in the Journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science: Effects of Smiling Emoticons on Virtual First Impressions. The results indicate that including the adorable smiley in your work email might be coming across as incompetence.
I find those results heartbreaking. (Insert sad face here)
I use emoticons about as often as others use a period. OK, Perhaps I’m exaggerating a bit. I use them a lot, though. I guess I should be ashamed of my behavior.
There’s No Shame in the Emoji Game
I love to use emoticons, especially a smiley face in my correspondence. I’m not ashamed in the least. I don’t think the 76 percent of Americans that have been reported using emoticons at work should be ashamed either.
In today’s digital world, it is important to use emoticons as tools to make emotional connections and illustrate your personality.
As a marketer, I talk a lot about building and nurturing relationships. So many of the relationships I’ve developed over the course of my career have begun online. In many cases, I have never met these people face to face. Whether I’m connecting with someone on social media or working with partners remotely, I do so with a generous dose of emoticons. I have made friends, found mentors, and grabbed many business opportunities this way.
Is it possible I have turned off a potential contact or two? Absolutely.
Do I care? Not really.
We Are Way Too Quick to Pass Judgment
Of course, we don’t want to ignore the findings of professionals that have taken the time to study the topic. This study is quite eye opening: It proves just how quickly we jump to conclusions about others.
I tend to judge the competency of an email communication on misuse as opposed to use.
For example, missing punctuation, misuse of the words your and you’re, or lack of effort to run spell check. That said, I find myself forgiving those everyday mishaps, understanding that the sender was likely juggling multiple things at the same time.
If I’m entirely honest with you (and myself), I have to admit; I make mistakes in my email correspondence, too. I’m not incompetent. If you believe my mistake indicates I’m unworthy of your time and attention, then so be it. No smiley for you.
The truth is, we can all stand to be a little less judgy. At the very least, we could all spend a bit more time putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes before we pass judgment.
You Only Get One Chance to Recognize a Good First Impression
While the adage, “You only get one chance to make a good first impression,” holds true, it is important to note that you also only have one opportunity to recognize a good first impression.
When we pass judgment too quickly, we may miss out on something wonderful. It is tough to kick our preconceived notions about people or situations to the curb, but we can certainly start by making a solid effort to be more open-minded. Simply put, we need to open our minds to perspectives that may not mirror our own.
We need to stop taking ourselves so seriously, give each other the benefit of the doubt, and spend more time understanding and less time judging.
What do you think? Feel free to shoot me an emoticon in the comments.