Why LOL is Not Acceptable in Business Communications

Have business casual days and a relaxed culture evolved into how we communicate in the workplace? The popularity of reality shows and technology that allows us to communicate our daily activities has now entered the workplace. In its most elementary use, LOL is an abbreviation or acronym for the internet slang Laugh Out Loud or Laughing Out Loud. An acronym that was primarily used by our kids has now surfaced in business communications. These acronyms are so widely used in some business communiques that it is difficult to determine whether the content is personal or business related? Let’s discuss what happens when you include slang or emoticons:-) in your business writing. If you subscribe to the belief that perception is reality consider the following statement:

• “Jim, LOL your report is 2 days late and we need this information so we can complete our analysis for the Accounting Department. Helen:-)”.

• “Jim, your report is 2 days late and we need this information so we can complete our analysis for the Accounting Department. Thanks Helen”.

Looking at the statement above it is obvious that the content is business related and is urgent. But the use of the acronym and the emoticon has drastically changed the meaning and urgency of this statement. In example #1 Jim is not compelled to act differently or there is no need for urgency on his part; it’s just another report. In example #2 Jim can sense in the tone of Helen’s comment that not only is his report late but his lateness is affecting her department as well as the accounting department. In a business setting the need to separate business and colloquial language must be practiced at all times. If you read deeper into the statement you may ask; how is Jim viewed at this company or how does Jim view others at this company?

It is this comfortable use of slang language that can easily creep into discussions with customers and clients if not controlled within your company. Many companies have protocols in place when using company equipment but that protocol usually focus on inappropriate use of the internet. Human Resource Executives and Executive Leadership are having discussions with their employees on how to communicate effectively in the workplace. Improving customer service and the ability to bring value to our customers is extremely important to companies. The inability to effectively communicate can be a differentiator between your company and the competition.

When Professionals seek new career opportunities they should continuously be reminded of the importance of establishing the right tone when communicating on your resume and in the workplace. Your communication and business writing style has a profound impact on how others view you in the workplace and could impact your career advancement. If there are others in your company who practice the use of slang or the use of emoticons.