I’ve been thinking about the challenges of writing on mobile devices. So many of our professional emails and messages go from our iPhone or BlackBerry. It’s not only a tiny keyboard and screen that keep these messages brief, but the fact that very often we’re hurrying from one place to another or are writing while half our attention is on another meeting or person.
The trouble with brevity is that it can sometimes seem like laziness, arrogance or brusqueness. And just because your recipient knows from your signature that you’re using a mobile (“iTyped with my iThumbs” “Sent from my BlackBerry”) it doesn’t mean they’ll forgive you everything. Your dashed off reply that you hope will show how responsive and efficient you are might actually leave the other person feeling less positively disposed towards you.
Here are my tips to try and avoid that:
- Would a phone call be better? Don’t use text or mobile email to avoid tricky conversations.
- Spelling, grammar, and punctuation rules still apply. Proof before sending, however short the message! Be specially aware of autocorrect bloopers.
- Salutations (greetings) and sign-offs matter even more when there are fewer words. Take a moment to be sure you sound friendly, even if if the main content is very short and to the point.
- Set up your signature to state the message comes from a mobile. This doesn’t excuse inaccuracy but it does explain to some extent why you are being brief.
- Don’t use all capitals (shouting) or all lower case (lazy or arrogant).
- Only use mobile email or texting for simple information or a non-controversial one to one conversation.
- Use the subject field (if there is one) to indicate content and purpose.
- Brevity can be mistaken for rudeness or arrogance. Re-read what you’ve written aloud or in your head before sending: ask yourself “how would I feel?”
- Be clear in your mind how and when you choose to use these media. If you use them regularly for particular types of communication, you could let your recipients know so they understand why they’re getting a very brief message.