Misspell wisely

It seems counter-intuitive, but sometimes it’s okay to be casual in business communication. But it’s important to know when it’s appropriate. notepad-pencil

I’m very busy, so my emails can be quite casual and quick. I might respond with just a couple of words, but that’s usually to people I already know. If I’m contacting someone for the first time, I make sure my grammar and spelling are correct, and that I also sound intelligent and professional. After all, I want to make a good impression.

However, that’s not what Evan Spiegel, the CEO of Snapchat, did when he responded to Mark Zuckerberg’s email with a request to meet at Facebook’s headquarters.

Kevin Roose, who wrote a fascinating column about it on LinkedIn, said most people would think it through before crafting a professional response. But Spiegel’s response was very casual: “Thanks :) would be happy to meet — I’ll let you know when I make it up to the Bay Area.”

The language he used and the inclusion of the smiley emoticon reflects an exchange between familiar friends, not CEO’s of major companies. Roose says it’s a “brilliant” move because his informal reply showed Zuckerberg that they’re equals.

It could be brilliant, or it could just adequately reflect Spiegel’s general communication style. It’s a confident response that worked for him but may not work for everyone. It really depends on the situation. In this case, Spiegel seemed to feel comfortable and understood the business culture in which he was operating.

Communication is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Hopefully other business owners won’t do what he did just because he was successful (Facebook offered to buy his company for a few billion dollars). It’s obviously best to assess the situation and relationship to determine the most effective way to communicate with others. There are plenty of people who are particular about proper English usage and expect formality, while others would see such an email as stuffy.

What do you think? Has a casual style helped you?


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