Perils of “Textlish”

“Mom, it’s so great how much closer we’ve gotten since you started texting instead of calling.”  ~Unknown

 “People have entire relationships via text message now, but I’m not partial to texting. I need context, nuance, and the warmth and tone that can only come from a human voice.” ~ Daniele Steele


SIX BILLION texts are “thumbed” each day, mostly by kids and millennials, but increasing by less dexterous “getting-oldsters” like me. In the process of seeking “faster and faster” everything, a new language has emerged, TEXTLISH, a clever assortment of abbreviations, symbols, parentheses and smiley faces IMG! LOL! BTW!

In addition to texts, another 115 billion emails are sent daily, leaving the U.S. Postal Service almost entirely in the junk mail recycling business! Add to these “progressive” trends educational efforts to drop cursive writing from school curricula – an “antiquity,” they say, like Latin, Chaucer, or long division. Fortunately, my Philly grade school teacher, Sister Angelina, passed away several years ago – she would still be beading and Gregorian chanting for our “chicken scratch” souls; waywardly navigating an asocial world without Parker pens, thank-you notes, or heavy bond writing paper. Have we lost the personal touch in our zeal for being spontaneous? I, for one, believe we have – a big mistake BUT a bigger opportunity for real estate professionals to secure new customers and regurgitate old clients (with little competition) – by communicating “hands on,” in person, non-textually. Our obsession with the Smartphone’s broad reach and rapid speed is ignoring (stifling) critical rapport and trust building – that “getting to know you” process important for capturing customers before we try to sell them something.

CHANGING BACK to more personal “touchy-feely” interaction may be challenging at first, tougher than adopting new technology or better personal habits. But “get retro” we need to do – meeting, greeting, handshaking, listening… all face to face. A gradual but steady transition may be advisable. Try knocking on just FOUR doors around your next new listing. As awkwardness and anxiety fade, and people welcome your “intrusion,” you can increase the number of owners you actually talk to. Smile, introduce yourself, hand out your business cards. Let them know you just listed the property. Do they know anyone who might be interested? Be sure to notify the rest of the business community through email or other mail merge process.

Texting is so pervasive we assume that people prefer it. Ask clients instead, “How would you like to keep in touch…email, text, or a friendly chat?” It’s still advisable to mix the media and speak to them on occasion when Textlish is their preference.

“Now we’re emailing and tweeting and texting so much, a phone call comes as a fresh surprise. I get text messages on my cell phone all day long, and it warbles to alert me that someone has sent me a message on Facebook or a reply or direct message on Twitter, but it rarely ever rings.”  ~Susan Orlean