Before you learn how to correctly interpret emoji language, let’s answer the questions:
Do we speak words or ideas?
How do we select proper words to express ourselves?
Or do we actually need just words to express ourselves?
Previously, we have touched the topic of popular smiley faces and lots of other symbols that people typically add into the content of their text message. And we learned how world known brands improve on their marketing campaigns and attract their target customers through the implication of emojis.
Today, we continue speaking about emoji as a part of our everyday conversation. But we want to enlighten you how to interpret emoji language.
Emojis today in business communication
The emoji used to be used as a quick way to send a message to your friends. Now emoji actively function in business communications. Many companies are using emoji to reach out to their target audience. But you should use them wisely.
Each business is different, so just because you used emojis frequently at your last place of work doesn’t mean that they are suitable for your current employer. Understand what method of communication is acceptable by asking colleagues before you use them in your communications. The way to use and interpret emoji language should be reserved for certain situations. It wouldn’t be suitable to use them in communications with a potential client for example. Their use will also depend on the sector that you are in; for example, creative businesses may use them more than a company in a legal or engineering sector.
As a general rule, you should use an emoji as much as an exclamation mark would. So, your document should not be full of them. Using them sparingly increases their impact. When it comes to important information, they really shouldn’t be used at all. The incorrect use of these little symbols may give others the impression that you are not taking things as seriously as you perhaps should. If you don’t really know the meaning of an emoji do not use it. Some symbols can mean many different things or they could be misconstrued.
Even though the majority of communication takes place in a digital format in today’s business environment, using emojis can certainly help, but always make sure you remain professional. When it comes to using them, it ultimately comes down to the culture, environment and the industry in which you operate, some industries are more likely to use them than others. Therefore, it is so important to learn how to properly interpret emoji language.
Mind these simple tips when creating a message:
The first thing you need to consider is whether or not all the recipients of your message will understand them. The classic ‘smiley face’ is pretty self-explanatory, but as we’ll explain later, not all emojis are so straightforward.
An emoji often enhance a sentence so try to use them at the end of your message rather than in the middle of the content.
Using emojis can help give your communications a little personality. Using emojis can convey feelings or personalities more effectively than a written word.
Where necessary use words, particularly if you cannot communicate clearly using an emoji.
Use emojis to celebrate occasions which can prove very effective, particularly when it comes to marketing
Quite often emojis makes messages incomprehensible. Therefore, the recipient may misinterpret such messages. This can leave too much open to interpretation.
In many cultures, a particular emoji can represent different things. Be extra careful when communicating with people from different cultural backgrounds to avoid using an emoji in the wrong context.
Potential PR disasters
Just as a poor choice of words can result in a disaster in terms of marketing or public relations, don’t overlook the potential (mis-)interpretation of emojis.
The unwelcome emoji
Not everyone loves an emoji! It might seem obvious, but don’t keep sending messages containing emojis if you start to suspect the recipient doesn’t appreciate them.
Avoid using emojis in communications with people you are not familiar with
Due to culture differences
American and Western culture is evolving by embracing the values of independence, emotional openness, and overt self-expression. Inversely, people in East Asian countries such as Japan, China, and Korea place a higher value on collective interdependence and humility.
People from many different cultural background use emojis. But it is important to note that not all emojis mean the same thing in every culture.
If you are using emojis it is very important to be aware cultural differences to interpret emoji language.
For example. a trio dangerous hand gestures: The ‘thumbs up’(👍) is considered offensive in the middle east, the ‘OK’ (👌) emoji/gesture is rude in Brazil and some other Latin American countries, and the raised hand with outstretched fingers (✋) won’t be well received in Greece. However, all of these positive in Western Europe and North America.
It is better to keep in mind that some particular emojis are not universally accepted.
In Uruguay, Cuba, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy for example, the horn emoji (🤘)is a lucky sign and it is used to avoid the evil eye and bad luck.
But it has a second meaning: when somebody sends the horn emoji to a particular person in these countries, it means that the person’s partner has cheated in their relationship.
Conversely, the acceptance level of people in English speaking countries differs from other parts of the world where the English language is not that commonly spoken. The red heart(❤) is a favorite of many people in New Zealand and Canada, while Ireland’s emoji-using population prefers the smiling pile of poo (💩). Australians like the winking emoji with the tongue sticking out (😜) while users in Trinidad, Jamaica, the UK and the U.S. like the laughing-crying face (😂). The common favorite in these countries is still the plain smiling face emoji.
Many countries consider the fire emoji (🔥) as an icon for the real fire, something that is hot and can burn and hurt. In Trinidad and the UK, they use it to convey ”attraction.”
Due to sex and age
The winking kiss emoji (😘) is internationally accepted as a platonic expression. However, the meaning is not the same when used or sent by people aged 25 to 34 and those who are 45 to 54 years old. These age groups use this emoji when they feel like sending a flirty message to someone who likes them.
Some cultures take the peach (🍑) as a fruit whereas, in some countries, the peach emoji translates to ”butt.” The reference is accepted by users ages 18 to 24.
Due to device option
What is more, this misinterpretation of different emojis may be based on the device brand. For example, Apple said that in the U.S. the most-used emoji is the face showing tears of joy, which has positive and negative interpretations, depending on the person looking at it. Moreover, the same emoji may display in a different way on other platforms. A smiling face showing teeth in full or a widely grinning face from a Google Nexus or Android phone would show up as a happily grinning image on an LG phone and as a laughing face on a Samsung phone. But the same emoji could display as a grimacing face on an iPhone.
Using emojis is a fun way to communicate. But there are rules that you should observe. It is so important that you fully understand your audience and how they will interpret emoji language containing in the message.
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