Say you’re the CEO of a business and your project manager comes to you with his proposal that will be going out to investors, business partners, and potential clients. Then you find that your manager has used “4” instead of “four”, “r” instead of “are”, and abbreviations such as lol, atm, and idk. How would you react? I thought so.
While you’d probably cringe under your desk for a few days, the truth of the matter is that this type of language permeates conversations on the web. This shorthand, sometimes called “AIM speak” as it first originated on instant messenger platforms such as AOL IM, indeed makes typing and texting a faster and easier affair, but it has muddled the lines of grammar.
Now that Twitter’s 140 character limit has become commonplace, web shorthand techniques are once again in full use. So what should you, as a businessperson, know about grammar use on the web? Is it ever appropriate to use this type of language shorthand? It’s actually a complicated matter, which is why I’ve written up this short guide on grammar on the web for business:
- Do: Understand the personality of your company. Is your company building SAAS solutions for warehouses, or does it make accessories for teenage girls? Understand your audience and understand your company’s personality, especially when communicating with customers.
- Do: Utilize some forms of Internet shorthand while tweeting. Twitter is a different communication monster that poses a unique challenge because of its character limit. While we suggest not going overboard, occasionally abbreviating to fit within the limit is an acceptable practice
- Do: Be Authentic. If you’re known as someone that uses shorthand and you’re comfortable with that, then you shouldn’t do a complete 360 in your communications. However, we do suggest remembering the following rules below:
- Don’t: Use Internet shorthand in emails. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a customer, an employee, or a potential business client. Email is a personal form of communication, and how you type in them will influence a person’s opinion of you. Make sure that opinion is one of respect and professionalism.
- Don’t: Use Internet shorthand in business-to-business communication. It’s just not professional or acceptable in the business world under any circumstances. This includes Facebook, Twitter direct messages, and email.
- Remember: The best rule of thumb is to communicate with proper grammar whenever possible. Yes, there are unique circumstances where Internet shorthand is acceptable (like tweeting), but overall your communication style reflects on your professionalism. People tend to remember the little things, bad grammar included.