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Emojis, emails, and etiquette: The science of making a great virtual impression3 min read

July 10, 2024 3 min read


Emojis, emails, and etiquette: The science of making a great virtual impression3 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutesReading Time: 3 minutes

Your next promotion might occur on a well-timed emoji or a perfectly crafted email in today’s digital-first world. Sounds far-fetched? Think again! Recent research, including a study by Hayley Blunden and Andrew Brodsky, uncovers the hidden rules of virtual impression management.

The Three Pillars of Virtual Impression

Blunden and Brodsky’s research reveals that our digital personas are built on three main pillars:
What We Say: It’s not just about the content but the way we say it. Mimicking your colleague’s style? That’s a power move!
How We Say It: Your emojis and punctuation are heavy lifting in a world without handshakes.
When and How We Communicate: Timing is everything, and so is your strategic use of ‘Reply All’.

The Emoji Dilemma: Friend or enemy?

🤔 To emoji or not to emoji? That is the question! Research shows that these little icons are a double-edged sword. They can make you seem friendlier, but less professional. So, what’s the solution?

Andrew Brodsky, in his coming book Ping: The Secrets of Successful Virtual Communication, suggests a clever hack: mimic the style of the person you’re talking to. If they’re all about the 😊, feel free to sprinkle some in. If they’re keeping it strictly professional, maybe save the 🎉 for your group chat.

The Silent Killer: Under-communication

Are you bothering your boss with too many updates? Think again! Studies show that under-communicating is nearly ten times worse than over-communicating. So, next time you hesitate to send a “just checking in” email, remember: silence isn’t always golden.

The CC Problem

Here’s a surprising tidbit: CCing your manager might make you look good to the higher-ups, but it could be eroding trust with your peers. Research shows that excessive CCing can reduce your colleagues’ trust in you.

The Myth of Instant Replies

Feeling the pressure to reply to every email within minutes? Relax! Studies show we often overestimate how quickly others expect us to respond. In most cases, a reply within a day is excellent. Just don’t ghost anyone for a week!

The Virtual Relationship Timeline

Good news for long-term work relationships: the longer you’ve known someone, the less likely they are to misinterpret your virtual cues. So, while you might need to be extra careful with new contacts, you can relax a bit more with old pals.


Mastering virtual communication might seem daunting, but remember: even small changes can make a big difference. Whether timing your emails better, using emojis strategically, or knowing when to hit ‘Reply All’, these science-backed tips can help you navigate the digital workplace like a pro.

So, next time you’re crafting that important email or jumping on a video call, remember: your virtual impression is more than just words on a screen. It’s a carefully choreographed dance of timing, tone, and yes, even emojis. Master this dance, and you’ll be waltzing your way to success in no time!

It’s Not Rocket Science, But It Is Science

In the wild world of remote work, authenticity is the name of the game, but it’s trickier than you might think. In addition to the mentioned insights, we invite you to explore another fascinating text Remote Culture and the Role of Authentic Communication based on Andrew Brodsky’s study. His research shows that different tools work best for different emotional scenarios: video calls for genuine feelings, phone calls for masking emotions, and emails with a side of explanation. But here’s the kicker: while some bosses think camera-shy employees are slacking, Brodsky suggests occasional camera-free time to fight Zoom fatigue. Who knew being genuine could be so complicated?

Creating a killer remote work culture isn’t just about having fancy tech. It’s about building trust, empowering your team, and keeping those connections vital – no matter where everyone’s working from.