OMG! More text speak creeping into business communications

It must stop, says the author.


When it comes to pet peeves, my list is long and ever growing, ranging from drivers who fail to use turn signals to people who read over your shoulder on the train.

In recent years, however, one irritation has begun to reign supreme—the increasing use of texting and tweeting lingo in corporate communications and business emails.

Example: “OMG. I just had the best idea. Can’t wait 2 share w/u, LOL!”

Sadly, it doesn’t seem to be a passing fad. According to a recent poll of high school educators, 54 percent claim the “mobile phone text message language” is now creeping into teenagers’ schoolwork.

Even worse, a few years ago New Zealand officials allegedly began allowing high school students to use “text speak” in their written national exams. A local newspaper provided some tongue-in-cheek (I think) examples: “We shal fite dem on d beaches” (Sir Winston Churchill) and “2b or nt 2b” (Shakespeare’s Hamlet). Yikes!

Look, I get it. We live in an increasingly online world that’s populated with buzzwords, acronyms, and slang. But as someone who specializes in communications, I can’t stress how important it is to act like a professional, regardless of your chosen field. And that goes for your writing.

Experts warn that “casual communication” such as text message lingo, instant message abbreviations, emoticons, or even a quickly dashed off (and often misspelled) message from your iPhone or BlackBerry can shatter your chances of landing a new customer, making a potential sale, or winning a certain position.

While clients may forgive the occasional typo, frequent mistakes and ongoing casual communication could give them the idea that you’re sloppy and not to be taken seriously. Those types of misunderstandings can be costly when it comes to business. As one of my colleagues recently pointed out, people should try being more direct, use plain language, and be clear when communicating.

Remember, there is a time and place for casual chatter. After the close of business, customers are not your friends, so save the LOLs for a non-work acquaintance. You don’t know what might annoy someone, so the best plan is to keep it formal and professional. Craft thoughtful sentences and support your written communications with a polished verbal or personal presentation.

U can thnk me 4 this advice l8tr.

Here are a few more examples of the most hated “text talk” lingo, courtesy of a lunchtime poll of my colleagues.

• “Perf” instead of perfect. I don’t know why, but it bothers me.
• In emails, anything that has a hashtag annoys me. #lame
• LOL. Also: vacay and ROFL.
• Please spell out “pls” and “thx.” Thanks.
• In speech, I think “B.T. dubs” drives me slightly insane.

Noticed any text lingo creeping into business communications where you work?

Kate Grusich is a senior account executive with Cookerly PR. A version of this story first appeared on the Cookerly PR blog.

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