Ian recently wrote a blog entitled ‘AFAIK English is still our official language’. Like him I too had to look up the term AFAIK. Which might surprise some of the Baby Boomers and Gen X readers being a Gen Y myself. Most would also probably expect a much bigger contrast in opinion between the generations, but apart from being guilty of the occasional ‘LOL’ generally my text messages are all of the grammatically correct English persuasion and my emails certainly are, or at least I hope so!
Funnily enough when I Googled the term AFAIK one of the first results described the term as ‘used to convey uncertainty when answering a question in online chat or email.’ Does this give off the wrong impression that abbreviations are in fact not only for personal messaging any more but acceptable in email? I guess it’s our own common sense which tells us within what emails we should and shouldn’t use such terms, for one, depending on who is on the receiving end!
Ian raises a very good point about using email when it isn’t necessary and this is a lesson I actually learned the hard way when I first joined Chiumento. Ever since I joined Chiumento and no doubt before my time too, our staff have always operated a work from home policy, meaning not all members of the team are in the office 5 days a week. Some of the more senior staff are also often out and about seeing clients or travelling to and from. In my early days I built up two assumptions:
- They wouldn’t have the time to talk to me on the phone
- It’s better I have a written trail of our communication
The email habit was born and kind of became the new normal, until I had my review. I was initially quite shocked that my use of email hadn’t gone down well internally; I thought I had been communicating in the most convenient way for everyone involved. However this was not the case. And it burnt time: why spend 20 minutes drafting the perfect email when a 2 minute phone call could provide you with the answer to the only question you really needed an answer to in the first place? Tone of voice can so easily be misconstrued, giving off the wrong impression – something that is even more important if you are a job seeker. Needless to say I changed my habit following that feedback. Luckily, as an employee, I had the opportunity to change. What if that was a first impression?
Ian spoke about “sloppy” emails in terms of job seekers and the impression left on recruiters. I think there is an additional issue. Job searching is a job in itself and as well as looking after your personal brand you should be looking after your time. Sending an email and waiting for the response can be a frustrating process, recruiters are extremely busy people and as much as some feel email is the best way of getting their attention, they can easily be overlooked when they receive hundreds every day.
We aren’t disputing that sometimes email is the best form of communication. And we aren’t saying that whenever you do send one it has to be war and peace and the synonym tool should get abused (we’ve all done it). But there is one thing overall that I have come to learn, that language is directly connected to relationships. Build a great relationship with someone and those communication barriers break down. As Ian pointed out even in this hi-tech working environment, ‘there is no substitute for talking to someone’.