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Is Texting To Blame for Poorly Written Emails?

Leslie Ciborowski
President Of TrainSmart, Inc.

Whenever you’re in an elevator, in a lunch line, standing at the checkout at the grocery store or waiting for the movie to start, chances are you will see at least one person with their head down, focused on their smartphone screen, their fingers or thumb dancing- sending or reading a text.  In all likelihood, you’ll see more than one person. It’s an epidemic.

We are a texting nation –  and text has become a language-complete with its own vocabulary and spelling.

Each day around 80 billion texts are sent. While that is a jaw-dropping statistic – it is a far second to email– still the digital communication queen with around 205 billion emails sent daily. Like any leader, the popularity of texting is having its effect on emails- some argue a very bad effect.

Once structured and written in the format of a formal business correspondence, it was not unusual to see a standard salutation of DEAR at the beginning of every email. How quaint!  Over the nearly 25 years since email became the preferred communication platform for business, the format, length, and purpose of emails have evolved. It is a rare email sender who uses Dear except for the most formal of situations.  Most of the time, the salutation is either: Hello! Hi! , or just the person’s name.

Today’s email is a hybrid of standard English and text talk. Over the course of a business day, it is not unusual to open an email from a colleague who shares some office gossip or news with the very clear descriptor–OMG!

Protectors of Standard English will tell you their skin crawls every time they receive an email with the OMG!  A quick aside: the first sighting of OMG in a written communication dates to 1917 when a certain Lord Fisher wrote the abbreviation in a note to none other than Sir Winston Churchill.

When surveyed, everyone from business executives to corporate recruiters says too many new hires and job seekers lack the necessary skills to write a clear, concise, complete and correct email.

In trying to analyze why this group struggles with writing emails, there is a strong contingent that points a thumb to texting.  However, the evidence against texting is circumstantial. Researchers say that texting hasn’t been around long enough to provide an empirically based conclusion on the long-term effects it texting is having on written communication.

Anecdotally people have a lot to say about the bad influence texting is having on emails.

People know they’re using improper grammar when they text; it’s merely a shortcut that enables them to relay a message quickly and effectively. But over time, the way we communicate—even if we know the way we communicate is “technically” wrong—affects the way we think. The result is that people who have grown up texting may have much poorer writing skills than people who regularly communicate using grammatically correct sentences either in person, over the phone, or via email. (GoodTherapy.org)

As a communication platform texting is all about immediate gratification and speed. It is about grammar or spelling.  Having mistakes and spelling errors is just collateral damage to the message – not to mention the mischief that occurs from auto-correct.

Because texting is the prevalent written communication vehicle for a significant demographic, there is concern that standard written English now functions as a second language instead of the primary language.

Just as many who speak and write English as a second language struggle with spelling and syntax, so does the text generation. It’s like the baby boomer who took French in high school and now can’t remember anything further than Parlez-Vous Francais? The maxim, “If you don’t use it, you lose it,” holds true when it comes to writing. standard English.

Just as there’s is added value in having employees who are bi-lingual, there should be added value in having employees who are bi-literate in text and formal written English.

That’s why more and more businesses are seeking training experiences to reintroduce standard written English to a group of employees who now write a different language.

TrainSmart offers a variety of classes to help employees who want to be bi-literate including How to Write Successful Emails and Writing For Leadership.

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Leslie Ciborowski
Leslie has over 25 years experience in the training industry. Her responsibilities have included sales, hands on management and software training, curriculum development, needs analysis, usability testing, and project management. Her strong training background, organizational skills, and exceptional development expertise, augment her extensive sales and marketing abilities.