Friday, September 08, 2006

E-mails Across Cultures and Time Zones

NINE must-know tips for sending global e-mails that create goodwill and get results

E-mail is a serious business communications tool and you must treat it with the same respect as any other business document you write. Yet people don’t. Here are nine must-know tips for sending e-mails across the world’s cultures and time zones:

1. Formality
The friendliness of Americans can seem overbearing to people in many foreign countries. Therefore, always address people by their last names until you establish a relationship.

2. Tone
· Minimize abbreviations and acronyms. If use them, explain them.
· Avoid slang and jargon.
· Use simple vocabulary and conventional syntax.
· Over-explain, rather than under-explain.

3. Time Sensitivities
Answer e-mails as soon as you can, but don’t always expect the same in return. Your e-mail may arrive during your recipient’s off-work hours or on a holiday you don’t know about. So, don’t be in a rush to resend the same message or a follow up.

4. Dates
When sending an international e-mail that includes dates, be sure to translate using date and time conventions for the appropriate country. For example, in European countries March 2 would be 2 March

5. Times
Most countries use the 24- clock. For example, 3 PM would be 1500 hours.

6. Sarcasm and Humor
You should avoid sarcasm and humor in all business situations, but it’s more critical when you’re communicating with different cultures. Many points have been missed and international contacts lost due to the misunderstanding of humor.

7. Phone Numbers
Always provide proper international dialing codes and other contact information when sending e-mails overseas.

8. Monetary Translations
When mentioning currency, use either the currency of both countries or the currency of the country in which the financial dealings take place.

9. Measurements
Most countries use the metric system. It may be wise to show the American and metric equivalents. For example: 1 inch (25 millimeters).

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