When Words Aren’t Enough: The Power of Emojis in Communications

Whether it’s a group text with friends or sending instructions to a direct report, emojis can help you say exactly what you mean.

Power of Emojis

Having trouble getting your team to read your emails? A communication tool made up of cartoon pictures may help you express yourself more than words alone. You see emojis every day and probably dismiss their importance. In reality, emojis help to convey meaning. They  punctuate and offer visual emphasis to fill in the gaps when you can’t use tone or facial expression to clarify your message.

People use emojis every day in a variety of contexts including text, email, slack, social media, and more. While emojis are used more often in instant messaging, businesses may also want to consider adding emojis to their corporate communications. If you think emojis are a ‘toy’ think again—they pack a serious communication punch.

One of the biggest obstacles to effective teamwork is clear communication. As many as 97 percent of workers believe that communication impacts their daily tasks, and therefore it plays a role in productivity. Communication doesn’t have to be formal to be effective—emojis can help readers gain better understanding of your intent in a friendly, casual and clear way. Sometimes visuals matter!

Power of Emojis

Emojis are Here to Stay

Some may consider emojis as a communication device for millennials and younger generations. The truth is, emojis are for everyone. Emojis add subtext to a message and represent facial expressions, animals, food, concepts, emphasis, and more. They were built to deliver information in a simple, succinct way.

Emojis were created in 1999 in Japan and have since spread across the globe. Their use became more widespread when virtual keyboards were added to the standard international emoji keyboard.

The number of available emojis grows every year, offering more options for nuance and diversity when sending a message. Emojis aren’t created in haste; they’re carefully selected by Unicode Consortium (a non-profit organization that maintains text standards across computers). Emojis go through a vigorous process that can take up to two years before a new one is added to a phone’s keyboard. Each icon goes through drafts and testing, ensuring that the final result depicts the right expression, action, or object.

Benefits of Visual Communication

Consider the best PowerPoint presentations you’ve seen—they’re heavy on images and light on text. They create an impact visually, making them more memorable than boring slides filled with words. Emojis have a similar effect.

Visual communication is the transmission of ideas and information using imagery and symbols, including emojis. Emojis are part of language and leave an impression with an audience. They can enrich many types of conversation from instant messages to corporate emails.

Emojis can:

  • Enhance messaging. Emojis add clarity to communication. In text alone, implication and precision may be missed, or misstated unintentionally. Emojis help ensure the message sent is accurately received.
  • Provide tone. Emojis let people know when you’re being sarcastic or joking. A sentence such as, “Please come to my office,” is less daunting if it has a smiley emoji beside it. Emojis give language flexibility as you can convey inflection using an emoji.
  • Save time and effort. Emojis are quick and easy to use. Rather than spend minutes thinking of the right word, use an emoji and easily sum up your intent with a picture.
  • Grab attention. Emojis draw the eye. In an email full of text, many readers tend to skim rather than read in detail. Tricks like bolding, italicising, or underlining text may not be as effective as adding emojis in areas of importance.
  • Engage your audience. Emojis have a friendlier, more approachable vibe, which makes it more comfortable to express ourselves to friends, co-workers, and superiors. In many companies there’s a distinct hierarchy—using emojis may make intimidating people more approachable and prompt a constructive back and forth conversation.

Emoji Unicorns

Clear Communication Equals More Money

If you’re unsure about whether using emojis is a positive thing to implement in the workplace, it may help to think about what poor communication may cost you. A survey of 400 companies with over 100,000 employees revealed an average loss of 62.4 million per year because of inadequate communication, while smaller companies of 100 employees lost an average of $420,000 per year. When you look at how costly communication issues are in the workplace it’s worth trying things that are free, easy, and effective such as emojis. Poor communication can cost you money—using emojis effectively may prevent costly misunderstandings.

Speaking the Language of Emojis

Informal writing in business communications is completely acceptable these days. In general, emojis are often understood in context, but their meanings can be flexible. Knowing what emojis mean before you use them is vital. Emojipedia is an effective translator tool, which can help decipher any confusing emojis—however, emojis used in the workplace should be easily understood.

Alternative Emoji Meanings:
If you have fun while creating your communications it will come through in what you write and the emojis you pair with it. In many cases, things that are enjoyable to write are also a pleasure to read.

A quick note of warning if you’re using a new emoji for the first time: Before you fire off an email with emojis for emphasis, take a quick look to see if that emoji has another meaning. Only use emojis if you know what they represent, otherwise there’s room for misinterpretation.

Power of Emojis

Emojis as a Tool

Emojis aren’t for everyone; your audience remains the first priority. If your audience feels excluded or confused, there’s a flaw in the messaging. Emojis should emphasize words, not replace them. Pictures and text work together to make an impact and maximize meaning so every communication you send is easily understood.

In the most formal of settings emojis probably won’t be used, but for everyone else it’s worth adding this powerful yet friendly communication weapon to your arsenal.

Image Credit: Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

Author avatar
Kat Hodgins
A meticulous wordsmith who creates content as fresh as oven-baked cookies. A classic Canadian with a love of the outdoors, poutine, and apologising for no reason.
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