Traditionally, emoticons have been seen as too informal for work. The problem is, that for many businesses, most communication is done electronically. Non-verbal communication is lost.
According to a study conducted by Dr Albert Mehrabian:
- Only 7% of any message is conveyed through words
- 38% comes through other vocal elements (such as tone of voice)
- 55% comes through non verbal elements (e.g. facial expressions)
Emails, which rely on words alone, are very toneless. It’s easy to misinterpret them. Think of all the different ways you can say the word ‘okay’.
Even punctuation is ambiguous. Take the exclamation mark… it conveys anger, enthusiasm and can even be used to imply something is obvious.
Emoticons can help to clarify meaning. It has actually been found that the human brain responds to them in the same way it does real human faces.
The only caveat is that it works in a left to right format. So the human brain would read 🙂 but not (-:
Some conscious thoughts on how your written word are valued emotionally…
- Emoticons have been found to make the person reading a message like themselves and the sender more
- They soften the blow of a critique
- People who use emoticons are rated as more friendly and competent by colleagues – see study
- They create a happier working environment