9 Essential Tips for Successful Cross-Cultural Emailing
As the number of email users is approaching 3 Billion people, it’s important to have a different perspective on how we communicate. The only better and effective way of fostering great relationships with people from other countries and cultures is adapting your communication style to theirs rather than expecting them to adjust.
Sending an email to a foreign contact in a similar manner like you’d do with those from your home country can possibly sink a relationship even before it’s established. A successful way of emailing is about adjusting to the norms of the recipient.
In our day and age your professional image is mostly determined by the emails you send. The usual dos and don’ts that you rely on at home don’t always apply. The moment your business associates or clients lose their trust in you, it’s difficult, to regain it. You have to make some adjustments. So here are 9 important tips for successful cross cultural emailing.
1. Know your recipient’s titles
In countries like Germany and Japan, titles such as frau and san are always expected when sending an email. Other countries readily accept Mr. and Ms. Therefore, determine the right title to use before sending your email to a foreign contact.
2. The last name problem
Often, the Chinese people use their last names first, followed by other names. However, the last names may also come second when doing business with companies from the West. If you are not sure about the name arrangement, simply ask first.
3. Mind your spelling
Many countries around the globe, such as India, Australia and Kenya use British English. Check the spelling differences (for words such as colour, organization, flavour, analyse) if you are using British English.
If sending to an American recipient, the spelling is often different from the British one.
4. Use of email handshakes
If you are writing an introductory email for the first time, consider using an email handshake that has a personal introduction. Try using a polite and friendly conversation tone to build a rapport.
5. The time zone issue
Working hours are dependent on the side of the world that you and your recipient come from. So, if you send an email during daytime from Europe, it may not be read until the next day in Australia. Think of the most appropriate time you’d like the recipient to see the message and the time that you’d like to receive the reply.
6. Write the dates appropriately
Dates are normally written differently. The Asia Pacific uses the year-month-day format. The ISO8601 International Standard is year-month-day. Canada, Australia, and New Zealand uses day-month-year format. US uses the month-day-year format.
7. Think about the medium
If you are sending an email to a country in Africa where PCs aren’t very common, consider structuring your message to fit a smartphone display instead. In that case, the message shouldn’t be overloaded with graphs, images or be too long.
8. Use simple language
When sending an email to a recipient who understands your native language as their second language, you don’t have to use metaphors, jargons or colloquialisms that could cause misunderstanding. For instance, using the American «holy cow» exclamation when sending an email to a Chinese recipient may not create the desired impact.
9. End it with «Regards»
Don’t just end the message with a full stop to your last sentence. Add an ending phrase such as «Best Regards.»
These are some of the simple steps worth bearing in mind by those who value building viable relationships with their business partners and clients across the borders. You must educate yourself about various cultural differences in order to build an effective and long-lasting relationship with your international clients and partners.