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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.

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Tara Massan

Founder of Be Moved, Life Coach and Writer.

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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