Communication in the 21st Century

This is yet another post that his been lingering in my drafts during my absence from the blogosphere but still quite relevant, just not recent as mentioned in the post

Having recently read an article in Red magazine about the sea change of modes of communication over the last 20 years since the advent of email, SMS and tweets i feel the need to make my voice heard.

The article, written by Liz Fraser in Red magazine May 2011 edition, tells us:

Of course, ‘Yours sincerely’ would sound far too stuffy and heavy-handed these days, but ‘xxx ;-)’? When did that become okay when asking your boss to approve budgets?

Well, first of all, unless you work in a very informal setting with few total employees, it still isn’t okay. Her initial premise is flawed, however, as ‘Yours sincerely’ or my preferred ‘Kind regards’ is far from “too stuffy” in a business setting. Even if you are bosom buddies with your boss, you really should be keeping informal speech to informal settings.

Worse than this, which it could be argued is a minor point and highly subject to context and interpretation, she then goes on to point out that communication is 20% the words you say and 80% how you say them, making face to face communication the most effective method of communication. This important 80% is missing from most electronic interactions, she rightly points out, however she claims that to make up for this it is totally acceptable and reasonable that we use emoticons or smileys to add the tone and emotion that is missing from these interactions.

While this may be correct in the informal world where text messages become minefields of potential misunderstandings without smileys to help differentiate between serious and sarcastic, playful and pissed off, this is most certainly not the case in business. If hundreds of years of multilingual literature can evoke crystal clear imagery and unambiguous descriptions and definitions solely through the use of well constructed syntax why then should we say that we have magically come to a point now, in the 21st century, where words are not powerful enough to be unequivocal in their meaning?



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