Writing Style – The alphabet soup of emails

During a recent workshop, I gave the participants an opportunity to vent their pet peeves regarding emails. One manager said he was not comfortable with staff members including personal remarks in their messages. He didn’t consider it professional, and it could be construed as harassment.

The other participants looked blank until someone figured out what he was talking about. LOL. LOL is cyber shorthand for laughing out loud. Unfortunately, the manager was not aware of this and assumed he was being sent lots of love.

You may have seen similar abbreviations: ROTL (rolling on the floor laughing), LMAO (laughing my, er, ankles off). These notations are used to convey laughter and anger, approval and disapproval, love and hate — and everything in between — with just a few quick keystrokes.

However, more and more people are complaining about them. As my manager did, the shorthand may be misinterpreted. In other instances, readers say these abbreviations make the writer look lazy, or they create an unprofessional image.

Unless you know that the recipient is really into it, I would not use shorthand for business emails. Keep it for instant or text messaging.

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