How to (appropriately) use emoji at work - Deepstash

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Emoji may create misunderstanding

Emoji may create misunderstanding

The emoji is inherently ambiguous. Symbols only have meaning because of a shared cultural context.

We can't assume everyone is interpreting emoji the same way. It can lead to tension and embarrassment - especially in a work context.

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The wink emoji

Consider 😉. To some, the wink emoji is a way to show that a statement is intended as a joke or a way to be friendly.

Not everyone understands this emoji. For some, the wink emoji implies you're flirty or suggestive, which will change the context of the intended statement.

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Potentially confusing emoji

  • 👌 is a gesture that means "ok" in most English speaking countries, but not that in many other countries.
  • 👊 is considered a "punch," but some people use it as a fist bump.
  • 🤗 is officially named "hugging face." Don't send it to anyone you wouldn't hug - in the face.
  • Some people use 🙏 to mean a high five or a thank you; others use it to mean prayer.

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Three sides to every statement

Every time we communicate, we create three distinct statements:

  1. What we meant to say.
  2. What we did say.
  3. What our audience thinks we said.

Communication is the ability of aligning these three ideas as closely as possible. If you're ever uncertain about the meaning of an emoji, ask your coworkers what they think the emoji means.

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