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How corporate usage of emojis could land you in hot water at work

Emojis have become a key part of corporate communications thanks to the pandemic – which saw a huge surge in the number of people forced to chat with their colleagues over online applications like Slack and Zoom. 

However, while emojis are seen by some as an ideal way to quickly and effectively express their thoughts and feelings, their increased usage has also led to some very awkward miscommunication between colleagues thanks to differing views on what each emoticon actually means.  

A picture may well be worth a thousand words – but it turns out an emoji could be worth a few very awkward interactions. 

While they’ve become commonplace in a text message or on social media, it’s important to consider if they should be used and which emojis should be used, if any in the office.

, chief connections officer of marketing and communications company VMLY&R is a proud advocate of emojis in the workplace and told that emoji usage can be very helpful in corporate comms, but only when they are used accurately and appropriately. 

‘[Emojis] are a way to remind each other that we’re people who have feelings,’ she explained. 

However, it is important to keep in mind that while use of emotions, symbols or objects have become apart of modern communication, their meanings have also evolved over time – particularly when it comes to generational understandings of emojis. 

Here, FEMAIL breaks down the most commonly misused emoji to help you better understand when – and when not – to use them. 

Emojis have sparked debate in the office since the pandemic brought on a new wave of communicating online through Zoom and Slack

While they’ve become commonplace in a text message or on social media, it’s important to consider if they should be used in the office

In a study by corporate communication giant Slack and language-learning program Duolingo, the companies showed what workers thought of emojis – specifically the smiley face emoji

The slightly smiling emoji 

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    Gen-Zers decided that the new meaning of the laughing crying face emoji is ‘dead’ 

    The laughing crying face 

    Amy noted that Gen Z has ‘decided’ the meanings of emojis in the recent years, causing misinterpretation.

    She added that the laughing crying face, which now means ‘dead,’ and replaced it the skull emoji, it ‘definitely resulted in some misinterpretation.’

    Gen Zers – born after 1996 – were raised during a time when the internet was already inescapable and in the palm of their hands. 

    Some millennials, who were launched into the world of emojis through AOL, are still trying to keep up with the everchanging meanings of emojis decided by Gen Z.

    And the emoji on the chopping block is now the laughing crying face emoji, which Gen Z has deemed uncool when used for its actual meaning, which is to represent laughter.

    Many Gen Z-ers decided the skull emoji has become a popular replacement for conveying laughter and the laughing crying emoji has come to mean ‘dead.’ 


    The tongue emoji used to represent laughter, but now it symbolizes playful sexiness 

    The tongue out emoji

    The tongue out emoji was once used to represent a playful and cheeky joke among friends. 

    Now, Gen-Zers have added a double meaning to the once innocent emoji.

    The new meaning of the tongue out emojis is playful sexiness. 

    The tongue out emoji, also called the zany face emoji, is often used in combination with the eggplant emoji to symbolize oral sex.

    It’s also often used as a way of letting someone know you want to have sex. 


    Although some might think that the single tear emoji indicates sadness, the emoji is interpreted by some as a sign of relief – and Gen-Z is said to perceive the emoji as ‘uncool’ when used for its intended meaning

    The single tear emoji 

    Another emoji that’s easily misinterpreted is the smiling face with a single tear emoji, which although it may seem like the perfect time to use it is when you’re sad, the emoji is said to actually represent a disappointed but relieved face.

    Gen-Zers often use this emoji when they are expressing relief an event didn’t occur. 

    And while many others may see it as just a sad face, Gen-Z has deemed it uncool when it’s used for its actual meaning. 

    The emoji is mostly used to represent something that’s bittersweet among Gen-Zers.


    The octopus emoji is said to be the universal sign someone wants you to cuddle with them

    The octopus emoji  

    The octopus emoji is here to rescue those who don’t want to openly ask for buildtechpros cuddles in a text message.

    Once used to represent the sea creature, the octopus emoji now symbolizes cuddles and is basically a virtual hug. 

    Just send a text with the octopus emoji and hopefully you’ll receive a virtual hug back. 

    Emoji slang is like any other language – ever-evolving which means it often needs to be decoded. 


    The peach emoji is now used to refer to

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