The art of conversation

We have so many platforms for our conversations – email, text, instant messaging, and posting on social media sites. As if the #English language wasn’t hard enough, now we’ve included hieroglyphics. For those of you who missed ancient Egypt class, #hieroglyphics was how stories were told and history was shared from one generation to the next.

In grade school, we learned how to write a letter. You know paper, pens, envelopes, and stamps. Letters have very specific parts, a salutation, the body, the closing, the signature. All of these have a purpose. They tell us the start, the purpose and message, and a close. It was a complete thought from one person to another. We mailed them (we call it snail-mail today). The recipient reads the entire message, thinks about it, and writes a response. The conversation can take days, weeks, or months, and is done completely with words.

Enter the tech approach. Our written conversations now involve quick phrases, not even sentences, and sometimes, I honestly don’t know when the message is complete. After the back and forth of messaging, someone adds the thumbs up or some other cutesy face indicating a message received and understood, I guess that’s the conclusion. The last word is now a cartoon face or hand sign.

Recently, I was given a #texting lesson from my college-age son. Evidently, I was using too much punctuation and not always the right emoji. I learned that the message is different if I text “Ok.” versus “Ok” with no period. But it’s a statement, it needs the period! According to our household expert who is in his final year of college, the period at the end indicates a curtness, frustration, or even anger. All that from the proper punctuation. What would my high school English, or my college Grammar 310 professor think?

This applies to the professional setting too. With the incorporation of Microsoft Teams and other tools for instant messaging, while we’re all working from home, quick messages are the standard. It’s replaced the “office drop-in” or hallway conversations we used to have. And the use of emojis is just as prevalent. It’s now considered appropriate to send the boss a smiley face when he complements your work. A word of warning though, be sure you know your emojis and what they mean. By the way, this is not chocolate ice cream…

Let me know how it goes for you.

All the best,

KK

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