Could there be such a thing as emoji-intelligence?

Being born in the mid-90s, I am a so-called ‘Millennial’. I am the generation that grew up with smartphones, social media, and instant messaging. Although we may not truly understand, or all agree about the physical, social, and psychological effects of technology, I think it is universally accepted that it’s here to stay­!

There is a growing body of research that suggests using technology, specifically emojis, can help us to become more effective and aware at work by increasing our Emotional Intelligence (EI).[1]

EI is the intelligent use of emotions, the practice of thinking about our feelings (or feeling about our thinking). If we are unaware of our feelings, we may be less able to manage or respond to them appropriately. Long term this may result in stress, defensiveness, and generally negative behaviours.

A first step to becoming more aware of our own feelings is accepting and paying attention to them. Followed by communicating this to others. For many of us being able to articulate and distinguish between our feelings may be difficult. Especially if these are subtle or mixed emotions.

Technology that we carry with us every day, apps on smartphones and tablets for example, can support us in understanding our own feelings and enable us to be more granular when describing our emotions. They also allow us to utilise emojis to further differentiate our emotions without words and communicate these with others.

The use of emojis in team dialogue has been shown to positively impact on interpersonal relationships and team building.[2] Research suggests that using emojis, over time, can improve the exchange of emotions between co-workers. A smiley face accompanied by a verbal message was perceived to be friendlier and more personal than words alone.[3] So, it turns out including a 😊 may not be such a bad thing after all!

As a company we have recently adopted the use of a group chat function both internally and on our new app EI Zone, that combines instant messaging, idea sharing and meetings. And although this may seem like a simple thing, it has altered how I communicate and feel towards my colleagues. I can express myself more creatively and in a way that makes me feel closer to my team.

Further investigation is needed into the interpersonal use of emojis and teams, with current research suggesting miscommunications can occur across cultures and varying social groups.[4] But for me personally, I will continue to use emojis and raise my emotional awareness with the use of my Feelings Tracker on JCA Global’s app, EI Zone.

If you are interested in using EI Zone, the personal learning companion which helps to embed emotionally intelligent attitudes, feelings, and behaviours through daily practice, and to track your feelings and become more aware of yourself and others, visit for more details.



[1] Park, E. K. & Sundar S.S. (2015). Can synchronicity and visual modality enhance social presence in mobile messaging? Computers in Human Behavior, 45, 121.

[2] Yoo, J. H., (2007). To Smile or Not to Smile :): Defining the Effects of Emoticons on Relational Outcomes, Annual meeting of the International Communication Association, San Francisco: CA Online

[3] Huang, A.H., Yen, D.C. and Zhang, X. (2008). Exploring the potential effects of emoticons. Information & Management, 45(7), 466-473.

[4] Takahashi, K., Oishi, T. & Shimada, M. (2017). Is ☺Smiling? Cross-Cultural Study on Recognition of Emoticon’s Emotion. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 48(10), 1578-1586.

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