Last weekend I sent a text message to my great friend Heather who lives in London for her birthday (cunning way to hide the fact that I had not sent her birthday card from Australia in quite enough time to reach her by her birthday I thought!)
"Happy Birthday" I text. "You r so lovely...LOL" she replied. Mmmmm
You are lovely - Laugh Out Loud, I wondered?
Am I lovely or was that a joke? Or was it funny that it was her birthday?
Or was the game up and she realised over the magic of a text message that I had not in fact even posted a birthday card at all?
And then I remembered.
Whilst in Australia and the U.S. the abbreviation of LOL is "laugh out loud", in the U.K. it's "lots of love!"
Excellent. Relief. She's not laughing at me across the world but sending me good wishes.
Communication mix ups happen every day, particularly in business.
Choosing the 'right' words can make such a difference to make sure that what what we say is what we mean. I often talk about the importance of knowing the language of your organisation, profession and industry.
This text message exchange was a reminder to me that it's not only about choosing the words you use, it's about taking the time out to think about the words that others use - and making sure we understand the context of what others are saying to us. Even in text messages!
I wasn't really worried about the LOL message - Heather did once catch the train from London to Paris just to have lunch with me - but it was another simple, reminder about the traps of every day communication.
Must go - I need to actually go and buy a birthday card to send (shhh don't tell Heather...).
Thanks for the chat!
P.S. Happy Birthday Heather, LOL (English meaning!)