Is there a phrase similar to, “Get off my lawn!” for when text talk and emojis infiltrate professional correspondence? If there is, I’d like to learn it. No, I’m not 85. Yes, I understand that we live in an ever-expanding online world of abbreviations, emojis, sticker packs, and buzzwords, which is great for social media and personal communications. But when it comes to professional life, it needs to be curbed.
Written communications say a lot about a person. Regardless of your career field, it’s important to present yourself as a professional. Overly casual forms of communication intended for texts and social media outlets can destroy chances of receiving a raise, gaining a new customer, or making a sale. It’s completely understandable to have the occasional misspelling or typo in a correspondence, but when text talk such as btw, totes, and 🙂 become regular players, it’s hard to take that person seriously.
Emotion can be hard to read and is often misinterpreted in emails. Enter emojis, which give clues to the intended tone of flattened out speech. While there is still disagreement about whether or not they are words, what stands is that sending a correspondence littered with them to a client or organization that has a formal office culture is a terrible choice.
Alternately, it can also be awkward to send a super formal email to coworkers or clients in a known, laid back office atmosphere. It may be that as you get to know your professional circles, the shortcuts and expressions become okay to include. Until you know your audience, it’s best to avoid inappropriate abbreviations and emojis, and stick with using your words.
Here are a few examples that make me want to yell, “Get off my email!” when I see them:
- plz and thx—This isn’t a license plate message, it’s an email.
- u—When you can’t even with those other two letters?
- Btw—The incidental information you’re providing just became totally meaningless.
- LOL/ROFL—Quit lying.
Written communication is an indispensable form of personal presentation. You wouldn’t walk into an interview with a law firm wearing your pajamas. Don’t do it with your correspondence either. Ultimately, the safest choice is to first think about whether you would say it outloud to that recipient, then type out the entire word or phrase. There is a time and place for casual communications, but don’t risk annoying a business relation or presenting yourself in a sloppy and flippant manner. And for the love of all the things, don’t attach memes to your signature line.
Guest Blogger Jenn Bronson — Jenn is an editor of the grammatically challenged both on a professional level and as a hobby. She is the Verification Coordinator for the Clerk’s Office of the Florida House of Representatives and the Chief Editor for the Apalachee Review. She also dabbles in the creative world of the blog and is acutely aware of the need for editors whenever she rereads her own work.