(Telegraph) How emojis can save your relationship – and help men understand what women mean
They have become ubiquitous on computers and smartphones. From the bog standard smiley face to halos, aeroplanes and deep-fried prawns, emojis are now used by an estimated 90 per cent of the world’s internet users – 3.2 billion people.
But one of Britain’s leading experts in language and communication has said the colourful glyphs do far more than just brighten up our text messages to friends and family. In a new book, Prof Vyvyan Evans, says they actually help men and women get on better with each other, because the images clarify a message’s meaning.
“Men frequently take a statement by their significant other at face value when, in fact, there is an underlying meaning,” he said. “For example, when a guy says to a woman, ‘I’m going out with my mates,’ and the woman replies, ‘Fine, do whatever you want,’ she is actually testing his judgement. She is saying, ‘You should know me well enough by now to know that I will not be fine with that.’
“Understanding that communicative intention is key to a harmonious relationship.”
And, Prof Evans argues, men are more likely to understand that communicative intention if it is conveyed in writing along with an emoji.
“If a woman sends the message ‘Fine, do whatever you want’ on a smartphone and adds the ‘angry face’ or ‘disappointed face’ emoji, it gives the recipient a non-verbal cue, a metacomment, showing him how to interpret the words.
“A guy can’t miss it and there is very little room for misunderstanding.” He can then adapt his behaviour accordingly.
Another common “miscommunication”, Prof Evans said, stems from people’s tendency to answer ‘Nothing’ when asked by their partner if anything is wrong. Quite often men or women take this answer at face value, when, in fact, the respondent means the exact opposite. Again, in the digital realm, a sender can make their true intentions clear by appending an emoji, such as the ‘unamused face’ or ‘frowning face’.
In fact, Prof Evans goes as far as to say emojis are almost essential in digital communication.
“We are now in the world’s Third Industrial Revolution,” he said. “As online communication takes over from aspects of face-to-face interaction, we need to use emojis to better express ourselves, to help people relate to us and to successfully convey our personality.
“People who don’t use emojis are challenged in a digital context in the same way that you would be if you were unable to change the tone of your voice. If you don’t use them it might be because you don’t realise how much your messages are being misunderstood.”
A survey commissioned by the dating website Match.com two years ago even found that the more emojis a singleton used in their messages, the more dates they went on. It also found that emoji users had more sex – 54 per cent of those who reported regularly using emojis had sex in the preceding year, compared with 31 per cent of those that didn’t.
In his book, The Emoji Code, Prof Evans also claims that Britons, in particular, have benefited from the rise of the emoji.
“Brits tend to be emotionally a bit more reticent than other nations,” he said. “They are less open with other people, so often prefer to use emojis.”
And we do not just use them to express our repressed emotions. Research Prof Evans conducted for Barclays bank found we also use them to have conversations about topics we find awkward, such as money.
“Emojis are what I call mean-proof,” he said. “Because they are cartoon-like glyphs it is very difficult to threaten someone or to take offence using an emoji. Even if you send an angry face to someone, it’s not the same as threatening physical violence, they don’t have the same menace. So, for this reason, i think they are particularly suited to the British temperament.”