How to keep your facial expression in text
Emojis — those weirdlooking digital images used to express an emotion in electronic messages — are now a staple in messaging. Regardless of the communication platform, nowadays, a message is incomplete without an emoji here and an emoji there.
Unicode Consortium, the group that keeps tabs on emojis, reports that there are 2,823 approved emojis. Did you know that “face with tears of joy”, “smiling face with hearteyes” and “red heart” are the world's most popular emojis?
When used with text to show emotions, studies show, the tone and tenor of a message becomes clearer. Emojis reduce or eliminate opportunities for misunderstanding, often associated with plain text messages.
In the social circles, emojis are embraced with passion. Now, workplaces are also catching the emoji bug. Leery workers, especially those with a touch of grey hair, have a disdain for emojis. They claim that emojis aren't so professional for workplace communication.
Whereas that might be true in some workplaces, more and more smiley faces are not uncommon on work e-mails — and studies show many workers receive then with a wink and a nod.
An emoji can help pacify the pain from a boss's stern e-mail. When negative feedback from a superior comes with positive emoticons, employees are more likely to feel good about the message and more likely to make the changes requested of them.
In a 2013 study, for example, a group of professionals read an e-mail message both with and without smiley emojis that were part of a fictional workplace situation. When they were questioned about what they read, the results showed that emojis reduced the negativity effect in the business-related e-mail messages. They said that the same message sounded less negative when embellished by a smiley face.
An e-mail is more likely to magnify the negativity of a negative message beyond the intention of the sender. In the days when we could not share facial expressions and other non-verbal cues on e-mails, emotions expressed on e-mails were sometimes hard to understand.
It gets worse when e-mails are exchanged between people who have grown on different cultural soils, who may perceive certain words differently, especially among non-native language speakers.
Other studies have shown that e-mails with an emoji on their subject line are more likely to be read because they stand out from the heap. On twitter, where most people struggle to fit their message within the limited number of characters, emojis come in handy because one emoji can replace many words.
Emojis have become the yin and yang of messaging. It is estimated that two-thirds of people online are frequent emoji users. Nearly one-third of them are occasional emoji users who use them several times a year. Only one in ten people who don't use emojis at all. In which group do you belong?