Happy World Emoji Day! How to Use Emjois to Make Work PlayfulJul 17, 2015
Today we celebrate those little cartoon icons that make us giggle. Emojis have evolved from the simple "colon, dash, closed-parenthesis" smiley face of the past to the bright, colorful icons that pepper our social feeds and text messages.
Previously considered a faux-pas in the workplace, emojis are starting to make regular appearances in professional correspondence. But how do you use emojis to make work a little more playful, but not too informal? Good question. But first, a little backstory.
The first emoticon was used in 1982 by a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University who wanted a clear way to differentiate that a certain comment was a joke. It's difficult to convey tone and voice in a text or email message, and with the increasing amount of communication that occurs via technology, the chances that a message may be misread are high. Enter emojis.
Emails can often inadvertently seem to have a negative connotation, whether intended or not. Emojis add personal tone and feeling to otherwise impersonal electronic communication. In the workplace, they typically function in three different ways: to express positivity, to emphasize a humorous remark, and to clarify statements that might be inferred as reprimanding.
Receiving and reading a message containing a smiley face emoji activates the same part of the brain that reacts when we look at a real human face. A recent study showed that adding a smiley face emoji to the end of an email declining a meeting request actually reduced the "email negativity effect". So why not pop a little happiness in your next outgoing message?
Inserting emojis sparingly in communication with your co-workers can facilitate team bonding, showing your personal side with still maintaining professionalism. How you ask? Send a high five to emphasize gratitude for a co-worker's assistance on a project. Try the winky face to show a peer you're on the same wave-length with them. Share frustrations by using the grimacing face. Send the sad face when you hear their flight back from the sales trip has been cancelled.
No matter which emojis you send, be sure to be mindful of your choices--there are a few in the collection (you know which ones they are) that you should probably not send to colleagues.