Emoticons have since become a regular part of an average Whatsapp conversation. Funny, to send someone a pizza emoticon to ask who is cooking tonight. But emoticons are also of real use! They are not just there, and we do not just use them. Why are we doing this? Why can it be good? And in which situations can you better avoid them?
Human communication largely consists of non-verbal behavior. We use gestures and facial expressions unconsciously when we are talking to someone. Try it, have a conversation without using your hands. Difficult!
If we find something dirty, we get a dirty face. If we like a joke, we laugh. These are basic emotions of people. Babies already show emotions. We use them to let us know what we think of something, and this goes automatically. Evolutionary, we use emotions to get help from others when needed.
Do not let it be a coincidence that ’emoticon’ is derived from ’emotion’. With emoticons, we can also show in the basis how we feel or how we think about something. Of course, the pizza emoticon does not help with that, and a lot of other emoticons do not. But in the base we certainly use them for a purpose.
You can say a lot with text. But the big difference between text and speaking when you see a person? Precisely, those are the non-verbal characteristics, such as facial expressions. A text message can be very different if someone reads it when someone says this face-to-face to someone. Someone can interpret something in a different, or wrong, way. Think of one of your parents who types ‘okay’ after you have typed a whole story about your workday, today’s train failures and what you ate. This is indifferent, while this is (probably) not intended. A thumbs up or laughing emoticon behind it then works wonders.
When not to use?
Nevertheless, there are situations where you have to think before you send these nice yellow rascals with a message. Then we are mainly talking about formal situations. Emoticons are generally still seen as informal and unprofessional. Yet research shows that it is becoming more and more normal. Customers would even appreciate it if a company uses emoticons, because they find it more personal and feel more involved.
Furthermore, it mainly depends on the corporate culture. The CEOs of big banks will not bombard each other with emoticons if they have email contact. Yet you are not sure about this. Maybe the business men in tight suits do send each other pizza emoticons, the monkeys, wink-smileys or the most ambiguous emoticon that exists: the aubergine ….
In other words, people are social beings. Showing and understanding emotions makes us so social. With emoticons this can also be controlled remotely. Long live the emoticons! And now hope that there will be a lot of new emoticons soon.