Emojis meanings: What your emoji use says about you

When to use (and avoid) emojis

The emojis you use in texts and emails may reveal more about you than you realise.

Next time you email a friend or colleague, you might want to think twice about any emoji you add to your message – and how it may be perceived.

New Canadian research found negative emojis create a negative impression of the person sending the message.

“You are going to be perceived as a person who is cold, and you will come across as in a negative mood when using negative emojis, regardless of the tone,” University of Ottawa School of Psychology researcher Dr Isabelle Boutet writes in the study.

“You should not think that emojis are a cute little thing you add in a text message and that it has no consequence on your interaction.

“Emojis have large consequence and strong impact on how your text message will be interpreted, and how you will be perceived.”

On the flip side, positive and upbeat emojis may create a favourable impression.

Those receiving the message perceiving the sender as more friendly and open-minded, according to research by Edge Hill University reader in psychology Dr Linda Kaye.

What are the advantages of emojis?

“Emojis can help you develop emotional closeness,” Dr Kaye says.

“They may help you better understand people you haven’t met before and help create a positive first impression.”

Dr Kaye says emojis can enhance clarity in online communication by helping to ensure the meaning of what you are saying isn’t misinterpreted.

“For example, if you want to get your point across in a way that is not offensive – so you want to assert yourself but not annoy people – a winking face emoji or a smiley face softens communication,” she says.

Should you rethink your emoji?

Using emojis in texts and emails to friends can become almost automatic and easily carry over to work-related communication.

But psychologist Dr Amantha Imber warns emojis may not always hit the mark in the workplace.

“A lot of workplaces could do with an injection of humour and emojis can be a nice way to introduce that, but pause and consider what a colleague might think of the emojis you use,” the founder of behavioural science consultancy Inventium says.

“It can be easy to get things wrong and potentially offend someone.

“If you’re new to a workplace, understand the norms and humour of that workplace before you decide to use emojis in your messages to colleagues.”

Dr Kaye also recommends being selective with your choice of emoji when sending group messages.

“In group-based messages, you may have a range of recipients, so consider whether the emojis you use are going to be appropriate for everyone receiving the message,” she says.

Standard emojis are a safer choice and are less likely to be interpreted the wrong way.

Beware emoji overload

Linda says less is more when it comes to effective emoji communication.

“There’s no need to text someone and say ‘I’m going for lunch’ and to use the sandwich symbol instead of the word ‘lunch’,” she says.

“Use emojis to add to your communication but remember that too many emojis can become tiresome to read.”

Written by Sarah Marinos.

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