Using emojis 'makes people think you're incompetent'
In a world where face-to-face conversations are becoming increasingly rare, it may be tempting to try to soften the blow of a harsh message or a difficult request with a "smiley".
But you might want to think twice before you try to lighten the tone, as the digital image of a smiling face can have the opposite effect to an actual smile for the person who is on the receiving end, researchers have found.
Emojis, a popular way to replicate non-verbal communication, are used six billion times a day and have been described as the fastest growing language in history.
Concluding that "a smiley is not a smile", academics have warned that peppering an email with emojis could harm your job prospects by making colleagues less likely to share information with you.
The effect can be so damaging, people are advised to avoid them at work altogether, especially the first time you talk to someone.
Dr Ella Glikson, an expert in business and management at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, in Israel, said: "Our findings provide first-time evidence that - contrary to actual smiles - smileys do not increase perceptions of warmth and actually decrease perceptions of competence."
The study, published in 'Social Psychological and Personality Science', was based on a series of experiments involving 549 people from 29 different countries.
In one test they were asked to read a work-related email and then evaluate the competence and warmth of the person sending it.
The participants all received the same message, but some of the emails included smileys while others did not.
The smileys in an email had no effect on the perception of warmth and in fact the participants judged the sender as less competent, the study concluded.