WorldSmart: Communications

When communicating either with your global online visitors, or with your corporate colleagues around the world, be sure to pay attention to how you present your ideas. Review the following strategies to most effectively provide for written communications with your global audience.

  • Clearly mark the recipient's name, department and title (in large organizations there may be more than one Mr. Smith or Miss Garcia).

  • Begin communication with a greeting or an expression of appreciation for the last communication received.

  • Include only one idea per sentence; avoid long or complex sentences.

  • Avoid using negative contractions: won't, shouldn't, can't, couldn't.

  • void all idioms, slang, jargon and acronyms unless you are absolutely sure it will be understood. (example: ASAP, CRM, etc.)

  • Re-read everything you write to see if it could possibly be misunderstood by a non-native English speaker; if you are uncertain, ask a culturally-aware colleague to proof it.

  • E-mail and fax messages can be fairly direct; letters are generally quite formal.

  • Letters should be used when making initial contact (with introducer's name mentioned in first paragraph); faxes are appropriate only after an introduction or contact has already been made.

  • Use numbers or bullet style for clarity, as much as possible, clearly denoting items for which a response is expected (perhaps with an "Action Item" list at the end).

  • Avoid ambiguity when making a request; be as specific as possible.

  • Always give time a time frame for a response (but make it reasonable, giving the recipient time to get approvals before responding).

  • Close the e-mail or fax with words of appreciation, such as "thank you for your assistance" and "best regards".