Why You’ll Never Get An ‘X’ From Me

I was recently in Bonny Scotland (or Sconny Botland as I like to call it) to deliver a workshop. So I took the opportunity to have dinner the night before with Lorna Hudson – a personal brand trainer from Edinburgh. 

During the conversation (which covered a multitude of subjects) Lorna mentioned that, whenever she messages me, she always ends with an ‘x’ but I never reply with one.

There’s a good reason for that

To me, and probably most people, an ‘x’ denotes a kiss. (And an ‘o’ is a hug.)

Now, there are very few people I physically kiss when I greet them. So few, I could probably count them on one hand and they’d all be family or my two best friends (and even they’re more likely to get a hearty hug).

Moving from my personal life to my business life, the number of people I’d kiss drops to pretty much zero – as I’ve explained in a previous post

I say ‘pretty much’ because occasionally I get caught off guard and end up reciprocating a kiss that was instigated by the other person. (Because it’s hard to ignore someone whose face is bang up against yours.) But it actually makes me feel a bit odd to do so – like I’m being inauthentic, because I wouldn’t have instigated the kiss myself. 

So here’s my logic

If I ain’t gonna kiss you in person, I ain’t gonna kiss you any other way – not by text nor email nor direct messaging.

Even when you’ve instigated the kiss in your initial message, it’ll be ignored.

Partly because it’s easier to do so remotely, without your face physically next to mine. Partly because I probably haven’t noticed the ‘x’ in the first place, it not being part of my own repertoire. But mostly because it’d feel inauthentic to add an ‘x’ when I don’t mean it. 

And being inauthentic is the antithesis of a true personal brand

So even if it’s not what people are looking for (Lorna joked she’s going to persist with the ‘x’ in her messages until she breaks me) it’s better to do that than be disingenuous.

How do you feel about putting ‘x’ on messages in a business context? What other things might you feel compelled to do just to fit in with others that would go against your personal brand? Do you think I should lighten up and just hit the ‘x’ button? I’d love to know with a comment below.

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10 responses to “Why You’ll Never Get An ‘X’ From Me”

  1. G says:

    I reciprocate but don’t initiate, always an exact copy of theirs. I’m never sure if there’s a difference between a “X” and a “x” . This feels in line with my personal brand too though as that’s exactly how I behave at work face to face. I do prefer messaging though, so much easier with less risk of getting it wrong.

    • Jennifer Holloway says:

      That’s a good question: is there a difference in meaning between x and X? Be interested if anyone can enlighten us.

  2. Tony O says:

    Wouldn’t even think of doing that. Way too easy for it to be misinterpreted and cause a whole load of issues, none of them positive. Few things more likely to tarnish your brand.

    Understanding the behavioural norms on physical contact in some countries and regions, including France and Latin America, can prove to be a challenge but it is a lot easier to clear up any misinterpretation when you are face-to-face.

  3. Denis Kaye says:

    Absolutely no ‘x’ or ‘X’ from me in any business communication – wouldn’t even dream of it!

    • Jennifer Holloway says:

      I’m wondering if there’s any sort of difference here between the older generations and the younger (I’m putting myself in former bracket with you Denis). It’ll be interesting to see any other comments that get added.

  4. Claire says:

    I’m definitely in the same camp with no x in any of my business communication the same goes for smiley faces for me too. There is a time and a place for these and it’s with communication to family and friends.
    I don’t think this makes me unfriendly either as the language used denotes either chatty or very formal without adding anything more.

    • Jennifer Holloway says:

      That’s a very good point about the language that’s in the rest of the message giving a clear signal you’re still friendly even if you’re not giving them a virtual snog!

  5. Deb Ratcliffe says:

    Very interesting. I am not a fan of the x or indeed the X. The smiley face I am getting more familiar with – hence my recent email to you to denote a little bit of humour. I think for me it is the generation thing.

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