The speaker was clearly a Baby Boomer. She was very animated as she described how rude and obnoxious “these young people are these days.” During one of her recent presentations to a group of Generation Y participants, she was thrown off by the texting that was occurring in the audience. One of her colleagues asked her, “Did you take time to understand what it was they were texting?” She had not. Over the course of the next few minutes he was able to show her several complementary tweets regarding her presentation. “Get used to it,” he told her, “texting is the new writing, the new communication.”
It’s no surprise that if I want to speak to my daughters, I don’t call and leave messages – I text them. The same carries over into other activities, à la the Gen Y audience noted above. In some ways texting IS the new writing, and I’m all for it – with certain reservations.
Take for example one of my client engagements for which I was the liaison between two competing consulting firms. For this engagement, the two firms were required to collaborate. During a conference call between the two, I sat in the meeting room of one of the firms. Two minutes into the call, the lead from the firm on the other end of the phone began to get very assertive and condescending in his tone. Immediately, there was visible bristling in the room in which I sat. I quickly sent a three-word text to the speaker on the other end of the line: “Cut it out.” Within seconds his tone changed, the level of tension in the room in which I sat subsided, and the meeting progressed without further incident. Yes, texting is a new form of communication, and I’m all for it – with certain reservations.
I have several observations and cautions for those who subscribe to texting as their predominant form of communication. As consultants and project team members, we are still judged on our ability to communicate formally in email, memos, and project documentation. So avoid these common pitfalls:
- The looseness of the texting phenomenon, has no part in formal emails or written documents. “LOL”, “ROFL”, and “Pfffftttthhhhh” (razz-berry?) are best left for texting.
- Common short forms such as: “u” (for “you”), “ur” (for “your”), “2” (for “to”), “b4” (for “before”) do not belong in formal emails or documents either.
- Incomplete sentences, incorrect grammar, colloquialisms may be fun in texting, but they reflect badly on you in project correspondence. Write complete sentences. Use correct verb tenses. Subjects and verbs must agree. Leave “Dude”, “&” (for “and”), and “luv” for conversational texting or tweeting.
- Texting often assumes a familiarity and somewhat unprofessional tone with one’s audience, and such familiarity and tone greatly detract in formal project correspondence and documentation.
Maybe I’m old school, but I find what works for me is that rather than letting the looseness of texting language affect my formal writing, my formal writing is evident in my texting. After all, if texting is the new writing, it’s my opinion that texting still necessitates proper language use.
 The examples in this blog post are for illustrative purposes only, and are based on the author’s first-hand knowledge and/or actual experiences. However, names, locations, dates, and even some circumstances may be changed to maintain the anonymity of the organizations and individuals involved.
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