As if there weren’t enough etiquette issues when dealing with e-mails, text and social media messages, the Open Comms ladies and I were recently discussing the impact of ending a form of communication with an x.
This letter used to be reserved purely for friends and family at the end of a text or e-mail (speaking about recent history and not even considering ye olde letters!) as a sign of affection, yet with more people using social media than ever before, and more businesses capitalising on the different ways they can communicate, this pesky symbol seems to have crept into more messages and is blurring lines of professionalism.
My tendency is to end text messages to good friends, male or female, with a single x. I might be more generous in e-mails, but to be honest, that’s more to do with the fact that you can just hold down a button on your keyboard and it comes up with multiple letters in seconds (if you ever get a ‘xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx’ from me, I’ve just been a bit lazy with taking my finger off the x key!)
This is fine if you’re just sending one message to a friend you regularly communicate with, but what happens if it’s the first time – are they an ‘x’ person or not? What happens if someone replies with lots of x’s, should you then reply with the same amount, or stick to your initial x, or send even more??
Ending a message with an x for me has really become a way of saying ‘I’ve stopped talking now’; it’s my version of a telegram’s “stop”. It just feels wrong to send a text that only ends with a full stop. If I don’t put a kiss at the end, I’ll often put my name at the bottom, just to finish the message off.
More often now though, we’re starting to receive office e-mails which end with a kiss, and although we’re lovely ladies, I think people are genuinely doing it out of a habit rather than because they’re feeling particularly amorous towards us.
Now some of you reading this blog will probably think it sounds bonkers – do people really over think one little letter that much?? The answer is – yes, a lot of people do! If you’ve never wondered whether it would be appropriate to end a message with an x or not, then chances are that the person receiving your text or e-mail has analysed it for you!
Some people will find receiving a business e-mail ending with an x entirely inappropriate, it might make others smile, and some people won’t think twice about it. Whether you think it’s a sign of the times and just a natural evolution of the way we communicate, or something that needs to be kept to private messages to loved ones, it’s always best to think carefully about how any part of your message will be received by the recipient. Do you really want to be saying ‘hiya’ to a potential investor, ‘Lolz!’ to a new client or calling your accountant ‘babes’?! It’s so easy to quickly fire out an e-mail, especially when you’re busy and your inbox is constantly flashing with new message – but it’s always worth giving your message a second glance before you press that send button. It might save you a lot of embarrassment later!