BUSINESS MATTERS (BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE) - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - November 23, 2019 - 12:00am

Effective communication is essential not only in relationships, but also in business.

Technology has churned out endless tools to boost productivity, and when you dig down into it, the main thrust is to make communication faster and more efficient. Older generation people may recall that one had to go to the post office to make a “long-distance call.” The reception was not clear, the cost immensely high, and thus people used this only for emergencies or for special occasions.

Today, there is no such thing as “long distance calls” anymore. A call is a call no matter where you place your call on this planet, and you can reach almost anyone anywhere in the world. And you can do all these for free. 

When it comes to communicating with friends and clients, I try to be careful and courteous. When people send me emails or SMS, I respond right away. Making people wait is discourteous. I also craft my words carefully. The way we communicate speaks volumes of who we are and how we are as a person. Many successful and prominent leaders do the same. Maybe this is why I felt something was off in the way certain people respond to text and email when all they do is to respond with words like:

“Noted,” “duly noted,” or “well noted,” and sometimes with the occasional: “Noted with thanks.”

I thought it was just me being prickly about certain things. Then, I came across an article featuring an interview with entrepreneur and long-time acquaintance, Elbert Cuenca. He says: “I always thought that the use of “noted” as a reply was a simple way of saying, “I heard you and let’s not discuss this any further because it’s not going to go anywhere, nor am I going to do anything about it.”

I did so because I had just received three successive emails using the term “noted” as a reply.

One was from my staff after I had given instructions for an errand. Another was from an equipment supplier after I had submitted the specifications of my requirement. And the third was from a luxury resort after I had informed them that I had successfully paid for my booking with my credit card.

It got me thinking about how the word “noted” became an accepted professional term. Although the origins of the use of the word are mainly unknown, some online research revealed that I wasn’t alone in my view of the use of the term.

Question-and-answer website had one query: “What does it mean when someone says “noted,” to you?”—and many answers supported what I thought about it.

At the very least, it’s a short and sweet answer to mean “acknowledged.” Some try to make it sound more professional by adding words, such as “duly noted” or “well noted” or “noted with thanks.”

While I am sure that the people who responded to me with “noted” didn’t mean it to be negative or dismissive, what irks me is how its use has become accepted to the point of being the norm.

To me, it has become a lazy way of responding. It has also become a kind of trend, to the point that it’s frequently used inappropriately or in a forced manner. It ends up being the thing you say because everybody else is saying it.

I had to ask myself why I was bothered by the abuse and misuse of “noted” as a reply. Perhaps I’m bugged by the laziness and the decline of professional communication. What’s wrong with the age-old “thank you,” or the youthful “got it!”?

I might also be upset that the word has lost its original meaning—something snarky, and dismissive, and deliciously so. Answering someone else’s diatribe with “noted,” meant roughly: “I hear you, but it’s not worth it to invest in a reply.” Or “You gave me your view, but there will be no comment or further communication from me regarding the matter.”

The word was imbued with so much wry humor. When did it become so corporate—and which boss started using the word wrong so that his minions followed suit and passed it on?”

I share the same sentiment with Elbert. Perhaps there is nothing wrong, nor sinister with a one-word response “noted.” But I would suggest that it would be better for us to communicate with propriety and courtesy not only because of what others would perceive of us, but because we want to add value to others.

Maybe it’s just me. But if you agree, I hope your response to this observation would not be... you know... “Noted.”

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