(Did that just say what I think it said?)
Yes, TXT shorthand is the right answer–when it’s used with the right audience. You can draw an analogy here to using profanity.
Vulgar language, when used with the correct audience, is suitable, as long as it’s acceptable with that audience. It’s not okay in a professional work environment, however. This goes back to the #1 rule in written and spoken communication – KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.
When it comes to substandard communication, whether that is TXT or vulgarity, the danger is in letting it slip into our professional communication accidentally.
So much of our lives today is filled with informal writing, it’s no surprise that TXT speak can sneak into responses to work questions, report summaries, proposals, and even emails to bosses or other professionals.
Language use and care in communication shows your respect for the audience. Conventions of speech or writing, when disregarded, show a lack of care and/or respect. Clients will not view primitive communication styles favorably, no matter how efficient they may be.
However, when it comes to using TXT shorthand, the argument of “we’re all short of time” doesn’t hold up. Remember that saying “let’s get through something quickly” (because you don’t have time), is the same as admitting that you don’t care about it.
Is telling another person to, “go jump in a lake” the same as saying, “no thank you?” The message is “no” in both cases, but in one, the style is questionable. Knowing the audience and responding appropriately is the very essence of effective communications. The best approach for an unknown audience is a formal tone.
If you think substance is more important than style, think again. You wouldn’t show up for an interview in a t-shirt, sweats, and a baseball cap. Style is every bit as important as substance, and people usually judge style first. So know your audience and keep your communication style clear and consistent.
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