Full disclosure: I abhor textspeak, which is a feeling that predates text messaging by many, many years. I remember the uneasy feeling I had when I discovered William Steig’s “CDC?” in my elementary school library. Prince’s propensity for using letters and numbers in place of actual words caused me similar discomfort.
And don’t get me started on LOL. When was the last time you typed that? OK, now when was the last time you actually laughed out loud in real life (or IRL if you prefer)?
With the exception of the occasional FYI, I text in complete sentences with all words spelled out. That’s just how I roll.
At the same time I understand that I’m clearly in the minority and that to rail against textspeak is to tilt at windmills. The overwhelming acceptance of this type of communication makes winning this argument in general impossible. I can, however, point out the inherent danger of such informality in business communication – where textspeak has no place whatsoever.
I’m not saying business communication needs to be perfect. Not at all. For the most part, even the most strident member of the grammar police can understand and forgive the occasional typo. But people expect business communication to be more polished and textspeak is just plain sloppy.
When you use informal textspeak in business communication, you’re telling the recipient that you don’t have – or can’t be bothered to make – the time to speak them with full, thoughtful sentences. It’s the written equivalent of speaking in one-word sentences. In other words, they’re not important and you’re not to be taken seriously.
Take care with your business communication and it will take care of you. You never know what might rub someone the wrong way. In other words, you never know when your customer, prospect or even coworker may think the way I do about informal textspeak. A simple U, 4 or – shudder – LOL could make the difference between winning and losing – or even keeping – a client. Is that a chance you’re willing to take?