Under My Thumb – Texting and the Epic Fail of Communication

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IDK if you’ve ever experienced this BTW. FYI I was ROFL at cat videos PPL post on FB LOL! TTYL

I have noticed something in my personal communication and I am wondering if you are struggling with it as well.

At my desk, typing away on my keyboard I have no problem using professional writing in email and communication.

Get me on my phone answering an email in line at Starbuck’s and inevitably I will have to backspace out an FYI or BTW or some other texting lingo that my recalcitrant thumb finds appropriate.

Is the business environment changing? Is it okay (or going to be) to use texting lingo in business communication?

My inner conservative is screaming “NO!” while I type away in jeans and running shoes. No tie, no slacks, no shoe polish… is it the apocalypse?

Here’s the workflow I use:

When I’m the OA (Original Author – ha LOL!)

My first email to someone outside my company will be structured in a professional but generally not formal way (complete with signature).

If the conversation continues and I need to reply back things get more flexible based on my relationship with the other person. I do avoid using texting lingo but I will skip the salutation and signature in a reply – at that point they’re usually not bringing anything to the conversation.

In Reply

If I work regularly with the sender I will use a friendly salutation but usually I’ll skip the signature (in these cases I know they already have my contact information and the signature can come across as pretentious).

If the sender is new to me or I do not regularly contact them I add the signature in the first reply.

In either case, I avoid shorthand and lingo BTW.

From my Phone

Pretty much every email I type on my phone ends up in all lower case with texting lingo sprinkled in… and… I go back and clean them up. The value of our mobile devices is to remain connected when we aren’t in the office… not to allow us to become complacent in our relationships with our vendors, customers and coworkers.

I have a colleague who never edits his email on his phone and they are fraught with misspellings, all lower case, little or no punctuation etc. When he was still using a Blackberry (yeah… that was a thing once) he would send his emails in all caps – effectively e-shouting his way through his inbox.

What about Skype or other chat services?

I love Skype and I use it as often as possible to connect with people that aren’t in the office. For voice and video that’s no problem. Skype chat with the same people? Almost universally NO. I use chat at work with very close colleagues and when I do it’s full on shorthand, lingo and no caps. I make the choice to allow myself this private communication tool. If I ever find myself using chat for direct customer/vendor contact I’ll have to revisit this I suppose.

And Texting?

Remember that select group of coworkers I use Skype chat with? Cut that in about half and you’ll have the number of people I text with for work. The number is 5 if you’re wondering and one of them is family. No customers. No vendors. No exceptions.

Things to Ponder

  • In dealing with serious business issues, contractual discussions or legal matters do not let yourself get casual. Important stuff needs to be treated as important.
  • I keep chat and texting as communication channels for my closest contacts… for me it’s nice to have somewhere that I don’t feel constrained to be professional all the time. Maybe it’s just me.
  • When communicating it is important to understand the recipient’s relationship with you… don’t assume that they view your relationship the same way you do. You may think of a shorthand, text style, email response as “Hey, I love my customers so much that I was getting back to them while I was holding the baby at 2AM.” What your customer may see is “Sheesh I’m not even important enough for a capital letter or a complete sentence.”

So I guess my answer is still “No.” (but not with the exclamation point – LOL I almost typed “explanation point” ROFL!). Chat lingo doesn’t really belong in business.

Yes… I do own a pair of dress shoes… and I do polish them.

Do you use text in business? What are your thoughts?

Oh one last bit BTW – I use “Thx” pretty regularly. What can I say… it’s more like guidelines than actual rules :).

TTYL,

Stephen

Break time’s over… it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work!

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