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TILIS – Tell It Like It Is

by Randall Craig on July 3, 2007

Filed in: Blog, Communication, Make It Happen Tipsheet

hru? lol, the uv 2mi; gtg.

Does reading this text feel like reading another language? You may recognize this gobbledegook as text or instant messaging shorthand, used almost as an artform by those “younger” than you.

If you’ve figured it out, great, but don’t count on your parent’s (or grandparent’s) generation to decipher it. (As an aside, you probably don’t understand some of the nuances that this older generation uses either.) If you haven’t figured it out, the message translates to “How are you? Laughing Out Loud at the Unpleasant Visual – too much information; got to go.”

Whenever we communicate with other people, their understanding of our message will be influenced by their generation. So if you really wish to be understood, use generation-relevant expressions and style. When we don’t do this, we either alienate or patronize the very people we wish to influence. This is true in a meeting with your manager, your subordinates, a sales prospect or a job interviewer.

A cautionary note: using generation-relevant expressions and style is only one part of the communications mix. In formal business correspondence – or a job interview – using informal language is often a quick route to disqualification.

This Week’s Action Item: The next time you are in a meeting with someone much older or younger than you, pay attention to your words and style. But don’t try to sound cool by using their lingo if it isn’t your own: you’ll sound inauthentic. Instead, be yourself and watch them closely for signs of comprehension and certainty: if you don’t see it, adjust your message and try again. KWIM? (Know what I mean?)

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Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)



Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at and

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