Writing Emails In Global English
Writing emails in global English. We work in an interconnected and global business world where English is our main tool of communication.
Global English is about using English that both native English speakers and non native English speakers can communicate with and be understood.
Non native English speakers represent 85-87% (Asia Times) of the world’s population and so have the upper hand in internationalisation and international communication. That’s why writing emails in global English is for professionals.
Writing emails in global English.
Here are my top tips for writing emails in global English:
Is the English you use internationally ‘global currency’?
Slang or idiom may be unintelligible worldwide. Do a quick audit of your everyday English to check the variety you use — and how you use it. You may need to use global or local, according to your audience.
Focus on the message, not just the translation
Non-native English speakers should check that their words say what they mean. Whether a translation is in-house, outsourced or online, you’re responsible for ensuring it makes sense.
Think reader when you write
Today’s writing is about reader engagement, connection and interaction. Understand cultural perspectives, respect differences and embrace commonalities.
Use Plain English – Write using clear and concise messages
Choose accessible words to make an impact. You may even have to ‘unlearn’ traditional words. Where feasible, develop the habit of choosing simple words, such as ‘buy’ rather than ‘purchase’, ‘because’ rather than ‘due to the fact that’.
3Ss – Be smart, sophisticated and successful
Going global requires professionals to exude the ‘oomph’ that comes with success. Being smart involves being great in daily communication. It’s been said that ‘words are clothes for our logic’: you wouldn’t go to a black-tie event in jeans, would you? Be sophisticated: clothe your words suitably.
Expressing times and dates varies in different countries
Resources are wasted when people fail to appreciate that even writing the time or date varies internationally. So, what day was 03/06/09? 3 June 2009 in the UK; 6 March 2009 in the US. And if a meeting is at half-past six, does that mean 06.30 or 18.30? And some express ‘half’ to mean before the hour, not after it. Getting it wrong affects your order book, flights, meetings and reputation.
Punctuation helps native and non-native English readers understand writing: it’s as simple as that. Commas, apostrophes, etc. serve an essential purpose. Don’t make readers have to ‘decode’ your message. Punctuate to help them see. For example, the comma pause expresses the meaningful difference between: “Li, our managing director has arrived in Beijing” and “Li, our managing director, has arrived in Beijing.”
The perils of multilingual email threads
It’s confusing, even downright rude, when someone emails you something you really don’t understand. Yet it happens daily in multinational organisations when English is intermixed with colleagues’ input in other languages, e.g. in an email thread. If you use English globally, don’t include a message written in another language without explanation.
Ending work emails with xx or LOL causes embarrassment when such sign offs are not understood. Keep professional and express the courtesy your readers expect.
‘Personal branding’ for you and your company
Writing tasks are your opportunity to impress. Communicate with confidence. If you don’t believe in what you write, why should the world?
I hope this helps you in your job and professional career, Christopher Wright!
Recommendation – my top tip: How To Change The Chip To Write Good Emails In English – Part I
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See you soon! / ¡Hasta pronto!