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Emoji are now welcome in the workplace [insert Dancing emoji here]

By , on May 15, 2015 at 12:26 pm

Do you fondly remember the days when it felt slightly transgressive to include a :) at the end of a work email? Never on a Reply-All email, mind you; maybe just a quick note to someone on your team at the end of the day when some casual confidence was being shared?  

Well, the times are now becoming very different. 

In a thinkpiece in the Atlantic, Bouree Lam makes the case for why emoji are not acceptable in workplace communication. And the answer is more than just #millennials (though that’s certainly a part of it): 

Beyond the bits where millennials now make up a majority of the workforce (and millennials do heart their emoji), it turns out that emoji do add something to everyday office communication: tone. From the article:

Lauren Collister, a socio-linguist at the University of Pittsburghwho studies the interaction of language and society, argues that whether it be emoticons or emoji—both are doing their part in revolutionizing language. In emails, Collister says that emoticons and emoji act as discourse particles—a word that has no semantic meaning but adds intention to a statement.

“People tend to use emoticons when there’s some kind of what linguists call a face threat—something kind of awkward or potentially offensive, or somebody could take something the wrong way,” explains Collister. “So people will use emoticons or emoji in these instances to just add that little bit of extra inflection or discourse particle information at work too because it’s a useful way to communicate.”

In other words (pun intended), we use emoji to add texture and tone to our communication. And that’s a good thing (even if we’ve tended to poke fun at emoji in the past). 

No word yet on whether GIFs are cool in office as well

Bonus link: xkcd has a emoji-based magic 8 ball that’s pretty fun

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Categories: Found on the Internet