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What is Emojional Intelligence? How to Be Smart with Emojis

What is Emojional Intelligence? How to Be Smart with EmojisComing up, I’m going to explain something called “Emojional Intelligence” – and you’ll learn how to become more “Emojionally Intelligent” with some interesting studies and tips.

Ever caught yourself using a thumbs-up πŸ‘ or a facepalm 🀦 in an email or text chat? Well, you’re speaking in the language of emojis, adding color and pizzazz to your digital conversations.

From classic smiles πŸ™‚ to snazzy dancers πŸ’ƒ, these tiny symbols are constantly popping up in our digital chats!

But they’re more than just mere fun doodles. They’re also a useful way to better express our feelings.

And they can even reveal things about our age, our gender preference, our culture, etc…

So, what exactly is Emojional Intelligence?

Think of Emojional Intelligence as the art of using emojis to communicate and understand one’s deepest emotions, thoughts, and nuances. In many ways, emojis are like an actual language. And I’m here to help you to be more fluent in the language of emojis.

The Origins: Tracing Back the Emoji Evolution

Long before emojis, humans were already communicating through hieroglyphics and pictorial scripts. Emojis are, in many ways, a modern evolution of these ancient images.

In the late 1990s, Shigetaka Kurita, a Japanese engineer, laid the foundation for emojis. His set of 176 emojis were pixelated – but revolutionary. His designs were created to try to bring some emotional nuance to digital communication. And they sure as heck worked! πŸŽ‰

Today, as ExpressVPN revealed, there are over 3,600 emojis gracing our devices and platforms, which is a testament to their widespread integration. Just as original emojis injected feeling into digital chats, modern emojis continue to enhance our expression of sentiments across the virtual realm.

But why did emojis catch on so fast? Think back to the iconic smiley face of the 70s. πŸ™‚ Visual cues always transcend language barriers. Emojis further that cause, allowing for universally understandable expressions in a fast-paced world.

When Neuroscience Meets Emojis

When you send a heart emoji ❀️, are you merely sending a graphic? Or is there a heartbeat behind it? Flinders University, led by Owen Churches, discovered our brains react to emojis similarly to human faces.

This could be the underlying reason why “Let’s meet up later πŸ•” resonates differently than just words.

And it’s also why a thumbs-up πŸ‘ in a text isn’t just a symbol. It communicates and resonates approval, much like a nod in face-to-face conversations.

Remember the strong positive response when Apple introduced diverse skin tones for hand emojis? It was a testament to the fact that people saw emojis as extensions of their identity, not just mere symbols.

At this point in our world, it’s important to become Emojionally Intelligent. After all, emojis have become an important factor in helping people be more emotionally expressive in texts, emails, and social media – particularly on platforms with character limits.

Emojis as Linguistic Enhancers

An interesting study in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences suggested that frequent emoji users understand and interpret emojis as emotional experiences. If someone texts “Feeling so πŸ₯Ί“, it might be easier for us to empathize with their vulnerability than if they had used words alone.

Further, the University of Michigan found that couples who use more positive emojis have more intimate and fulfilling relationships. So, a barrage of β€οΈπŸ’πŸ’Œ actually helps to boost emotional connection!

A study in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences explained that emojis kind of work like”digital surrogates” for our human tone of voice, facial expressions, and gestures.

Basically… while words in print can be powerful, they can sometimes fall flat. And so, emojis can help enhance, refine, and sometimes even redefine our messages.

For example…

  • Ambiguity Enhancer: “I’m okay” feels vastly different from “I’m okay πŸ˜”“, where the emoji gives a voice to unspoken feelings. Or “I’m Fine.” vs. “I’m fine πŸ˜‚“. The former feels curt, while the emoji in the latter adds a playful snarky tone.
  • Tone Enhancer: “Congratulations.” vs. “Congratulations! πŸŽ‰“. The addition of the emoji adds genuine excitement and celebration to the sentiment.
  • State of Mind Enhancer: A sudden shift from always using bright and cheerful emojis like 😊 and 🌈 to suddenly using more somber ones like 😒 or β˜” will immediately let a loved one know you’re in a funk.

Emojis: Windows to Our Identity

Our emoji choices often mirror our identities:

  • Gender: A survey by SwiftKey revealed that women might use emojis more frequently, leaning towards ones like πŸ’β€β™€οΈ or ❀️ while men might opt for 🍺 or 🏈.
  • Culture: Emojis take on different meanings globally. In the west, πŸ‘ is a thumbs up, but in Middle Eastern cultures, it might be taken as an offensive gesture! Also…A peace sign ✌️ is universal… but can hold very different nuances in different countries.
  • Age: Gen Z’s emoji vocabulary is very different than boomer’s.

Here are some emojis that are popular with Gen Z:

  1. πŸ₯Ί – “Pleading face”: Often used to show a soft, vulnerable, or begging emotion.
  2. 🀑 – “Clown”: Used to imply someone is behaving foolishly or that they’ve made a mistake, sometimes in a self-deprecating manner.
  3. πŸ€ͺ – “Zany face”: Expresses excitement, goofiness, or being “in a mood.”
  4. 🀠 – “Cowboy”: Used to express a range of emotions from excitement to a sense of irony.
  5. πŸ₯΄ – “Woozy face”: Can be used to convey confusion, intoxication, or being overwhelmed.
  6. πŸ™ƒ – “Upside-down face”: Often used to convey sarcasm or irony.
  7.  🀍 – “White heart”: A variation of the classic heart emoji, used to show love or appreciation.
  8. Β πŸ₯° – “Smiling face with hearts”: Used to convey affection or being smitten.
  9. 🀫 – “Shushing face”: Asking for silence or indicating a secret.
  10. πŸ¦‹ – “Butterfly”: Sometimes associated with the idea of growth, transformation, or the phrase “butterflies in the stomach.”
  11. πŸ’€ – “Skull”: Gen Z’s way of saying “I’m dead” or “I can’t even,” signifying something is extremely funny or relatable.

Here are popular Baby Boomer emojis:

  1. πŸ™‚ – “Slight smile”: A classic, straightforward way to express a pleasant feeling or agreeableness.
  2. 😊 – “Smiling face with smiling eyes”: A step up from the slight smile, showcasing warmth or happiness.
  3. ❀️ – “Red heart”: An undeniable classic to express love or strong liking.
  4. Β πŸ˜‚ – “Face with tears of joy”: Indicating something is humorous, though younger generations might argue they use this even more.
  5. πŸ‘ – “Thumbs up”: A universal sign of approval or agreement.
  6. 😒 – “Crying face”: Expressing sadness or empathy.
  7. πŸ˜‰ – “Winking face”: To indicate a joke or a playful sentiment.
  8. πŸŽ‚ – “Birthday cake”: Often used to wish someone a happy birthday.
  9. 🌹 – “Rose”: A romantic gesture or sometimes to show appreciation.
  10. 😎 – “Face with sunglasses”: Often used to denote something cool or to describe pleasant weather.
  11. ✨ – “Sparkles”: Used for emphasis, to indicate something is special or to showcase a positive vibe.

Emojis: The New Corporate Language

Corporate emails were once rigid. But now, many have noticed a sprinkle of emojis – and they’re being used on purpose – strategically.

The University of Missouri-St. Louis discovered emojis in the workplace are actually helping to create a more positive company culture.

For example…

  • Great job on the presentation! πŸ‘β€ is far warmer than mere words alone.
  • Can we revisit this section? πŸ€”” is a nice way to ease potential defensiveness.

Emojis and Diversity

As cultures and societies evolve, so do emojis. They now proudly showcase diversity with icons like πŸ§• (woman with headscarf), πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ (rainbow flag symbolizing LGBTQ+ pride), and 🀝 (handshake signifying unity and agreement). Emojis are breaking barriers and championing inclusivity, making everyone feel seen and represented.

The story of emoji diversity has its roots in actual real-world movements for equality and representation.

Black Lives Matter Story:

When the Black Lives Matter movement was gaining momentum worldwide, the push for more diverse skin tones in emojis became stronger than ever. The Unicode Consortium, responsible for emoji standards, listened. In 2015, they introduced a set of skin tone modifiers, allowing users to choose from a more diverse palette of human emojis. This was a pivotal moment, not just for the emoji world but as a reflection of broader societal change.

Gender Balance:

While emojis initially leaned into traditional gender roles, with male emojis depicted in jobs and female emojis often limited to beauty or relational roles, this began to change with active advocacy. The introduction of emojis like the female construction worker πŸ‘·β€β™€οΈ and the male figure getting a haircut πŸ’‡β€β™‚οΈ helped challenge and dismantle these stereotypes.

Underrepresented Cultures:

Beyond gender and skin color, emojis started paying attention to cultural nuances.

For example…

  • The introduction of the diya lamp πŸͺ” during Diwali was celebrated by many in the Indian community as a recognition of their cultural significance.
  • And then there’s the story of Rayouf Alhumedhi, a 15-year-old from Saudi Arabia. Realizing the lack of an emoji wearing a hijab, she sent a proposal to The Unicode Consortium. Soon after we got the πŸ§• emoji, creating waves of appreciation from Muslim women around the globe.

Emojional Intelligence and Learning: A New Teaching Tool?

Educators are starting to tap into the emoji trend, too. Emojis are being used to make lessons more fun.

  • Imagine learning about food chains through emojis: 🌾 > πŸ‡ > 🦊. Simple, right?
  • Or how about learning about the The Boston Tea Party like this: πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§ + β˜• + 🌊. It’s like a mini movie in your mind!
  • Plus some teachers are now using emojis when giving feedback on work. And it helps – because it’s far friendlier to see a πŸ‘ or 🌟 – or even aΒ  πŸ”„ – which means “try again.”

The Future of Emojis and Emojional Intelligence

People love emojis, and they keep getting better and more diverse. Have you ever thought about what could come next? Some tech experts believe we might be able to use advanced technology to make emojis even cooler in the future.

There’s talk about mixing emojis with Augmented Reality (AR). Just imagine if instead of sending a simple 😲 – you could send a 3D version that pops out of the screen – with a 3D version of your own face, mouth agape, eyes wide, thanks to AR.

While this idea is exciting, it is more than a distant dream. In fact, Samsung has already made strides in this direction with their Augmented Reality Emoji feature, allowing users to infuse their communications with animated 3D emojis that mirror their facial expressions and reactions.

We know that the Unicode Consortium keeps adding more each year. They’re always thinking about how to make emojis fit our ever-changing world.

In Conclusion: Using Emojional Intelligence

Emojis are like the fun stickers of our chats! πŸŽ‰ From ancient drawings on cave walls to now slapping a πŸ˜‚ in a text, we’ve always loved using pictures to chat. With so many emojis out there, our messages are livelier than ever.

And who knows? Maybe in the future, we’ll have an emoji perfect for that weird feeling when you can’t find your phone in your pocket. Until then, keep on emoji-ing and maybe throw in a πŸ•Ί or πŸ’ƒ now and then. After all, why just say it with words when you can jazz it up with an emoji? πŸ˜‰πŸŽˆ

Small Tweaks, Big Life Results

If you want to live your best life… I’m the founder of the therapist recommended program The Tweak a Week Online Course –  which helps people to make small, positive changes in their habits that lead to big results.

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