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Researchers Say We’ve Been Underestimating Emojis, Here’s Why

Researchers Say We’ve Been Underestimating Emojis, Here’s Why

Do you have a friend or family member that litters their emails or text messages with emojis? Maybe this person is passionate about expressing themselves through an emoji — it’s how they communicate electronically. Or you may have a friend that does not use emojis at all.

For the folks that use emojis, the primary reason behind it is to express yourself and to clarify the tone of your message. Many people who don’t use emojis may view them as unnecessary. However, there have been a few studies completed which look into how emojis can affect how people communicate with one another, and the results are quite surprising.

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Emotional Contagion In Face-to-Face Communication

Since birth, we have been mimicking each other’s expressions and emotions when we are talking in person. Most of the time, we’re not aware that we are doing this. This is also called “emotional contagion,” which is the occurrence of having one person’s emotions and expressions directly trigger similar emotions and behaviors in others.

Think back to a time when someone shared good news with you. I’m sure you found yourself just as happy, mirroring the same expressions and body language. The opposite is true when someone is upset with you. You may find yourself mirroring the same expression on their face and their body language.

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Emotional contagion allows us to show empathy and further build relationships with others. You may think this only applies to face-to-face communication, but emojis actually afford us similar emotional contagion cues.

Then How About Emojis?

Emerging research indicates that when we see specific emojis, our mood changes. Think back to a time when you received a text from a friend or loved one that was coupled with a smiley emoji, how did that make you feel? Maybe you found yourself smiling back at that message? Did your response have a smiley emoji attached?

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Whether we are aware of it or not, our facial expressions tend to mimic the emotion of the emoji.

When we communicate face-to-face, we have non-verbal cues being sent our way. These include intonation, gestures, facial expressions, and body language. We use these cues to help convey the specific messages we want others to understand. In turn, we mimic similar gestures, body language, and facial expressions when we are listening to others to show support and acknowledge the conversation.

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However, with technology booming and the prevalence of connecting with others electronically, we miss out on several specific non-verbal cues that enhance our communication. I’m sure you have experienced a communication breakdown via text or email. This can happen due to the lack of non-verbal cues that support the messages we want to convey to others.

How Emojis Can Increase Social Intimacy

Stellar communication requires social intimacy. Meaning, we increase the quality of our communications through the disclosure of personal details. But it takes more than just sharing personal experiences and opinions with others to create social intimacy. We must also express our feelings and emotions with others. This is how we build a close relationship and continue to maintain the relationship. You can enlist the help of emojis to help you express your feelings and emotions with others in a digital world.

We immediately recognize when someone takes time to share their emotions with us. The use of emojis increases our intimacy with others. As we increase emojis when communicating with others, our perception of intimacy increases as well. So, feel free to couple a text message with a smiley face or an email with an emoji that expresses your feelings more clearly. Let an emoji complete the emotion you are trying to convey in your message.

Conclusion

Emojis can help enhance how we communicate electronically. The benefits of adding in a smiley face here and there, or whatever emoji you see fit, can provide you with a deeper connection with the person you are communicating with.

More by this author

Tara Massan

Founder of Be Moved, Life Coach and Writer.

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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