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Continued from Previous……

Challenge #3 – English Language

People of the former English colonies have inherent complex about English language. True, that the English ruled us for over two hundred years and our ‘freedom period’ is only about seventy years. Does this mean that we have to wait for another hundred years to get complex-free? Not really. The way things are going, we are becoming more complexed and more English-oriented with every passing day. I have seen similar phenomenon in former French colonies.

English language in Pakistan is a recipe for success for some and a matter of heartbreaking shame for many others. Even when we were students, great number of students failed in English. Well, it was the era of mostly Urdu-medium teaching which has now changed considerably in urban areas but not at all in suburban and rural areas. Our discomfort with English language is quite widespread and common. We are not doing anything about it, only suffering in silence. Office communication is in English and we find ourselves not up to the challenge.

Another atrocity that has occurred worldwide is the use of short forms; gud for good, hru for how are you, br for best regards and so on. If it was limited to the addressing and greeting, it may be somehow accepted, but when such abbreviations are used in the text, they leave the readers baffled about their meanings. Text messages suffer a lot from these issues, but occasionally emails also contain these.

I am certain that if we change the communication to Urdu, we shall still have similar problems, because the underlying problem is discomfort with formal expression. Having said that, we do understand that English language is here to stay, and we need to learn enough of it to use it effectively.

Challenge #4 – Lack of Discipline and Expertise for Review

The number of emails that are fraught with errors of spelling and syntax is astounding. There is only one reason for this: not reviewing the text before clicking the send button. In our usual, purposeless hurry, we rush to send the email without having a second look at it. The cost of this routine is phenomenal. Opportunities are missed particularly in cross-cultural communications, people get offended, wrong actions are taken, or much time is wasted on getting clarifications. It all happens just because the sender did not bother to review before sending.

The failure to review messages before sending happens due to two reasons. One, there is a lack of discipline. The senders do not make it compulsory upon themselves to review as a matter of routine. Additionally, there is no discrimination with regards to the importance of matter. Critical matters get the same attention as those of trivial matters. Two, the sender fails to find fault with his/her own crafted text. They do not have enough expertise to do a review and improve.

While the above may be true, it will still help in reviewing the messages before sending.

The matter of WhatsApp or text messages is even worse. Those are always composed hurriedly, are kept brief and sent in a flash. No one even thinks of having a second look in this case.

Challenge #5 – Misuse of Emails and Text Messages

WhatsApp is the most misused medium in Pakistan. Groups are formed and you are included without informing. The group does not have the courtesy to ask if you would like to be included. There is a flood of messages, most of which are forwards. I wish we knew who the creator in the first place was and that person should be prosecuted for wasting hundreds of man-hours of so many people. This is a clear attack of people’s privacy and time. WhatsApp groups in offices suffer from similar behavior. Every now and then, a meaningless forward is sent. It appears that we have lost the sense to differentiate between what is proper and improper.

The greatest Email misuse is sending unnecessarily to several participants. Because it does not take effort to add participants does not mean that every email should be sent to entire office. This is against confidentiality, propriety and decency. We are using digital space without any regard at all. We are also wasting others’ time without regard. And we are trying to appear ‘busy’ and ‘at work’ by including the entire office, particularly the seniors.

Two types of emails are particularly obnoxious. One, the circular kind of email which going back and forth between a group, each member inserting a little every time. It is a never-ending kind of email which appears to be going forever. Two, the one-liners going between two people. It is the patience-testing type of email as both of them do not pick up the phone and settle the matter.

Misuse of digital communication media is rampant and is a rapidly growing, serious menace. We all need to learn to use these more responsibly and carefully.

To be Continued……

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