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Communicating Culturally: Top 3 Tips

Professionals in the West prefer to keep their writing simple and easy-to-understand unlike their counterparts in the East, who prefer elaboration and a stronger vocabulary.

Sudakshina Bhattacharjee
Sun, Jun 2 2013

Image: Courtsey English Vinglish

About Sudakshina

Sudakshina Bhattacharjee (@SudakshinaKina) is a writer and lecturer who spends her life working and living in London and Kolkata.

For more information about her work, please log on to www.sudakshinakina.com


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We have the power to choose the words we write, so we should choose the right ones- especially when doing business.

As the world we live in and do business in becomes more global, day by day, our language is also globalising.

What does this mean exactly?

Well, nothing too profound; to simply put it, when we communicate globally, we need to do that culturally.

I have three tips to help you do this.

Firstly, keep your business writing clean and clear. But what is ‘clear’ business writing?

Well, most people say they prefer it, but quite bizarrely, the moment many start to write it becomes complicated and embellished. This does not impress and too much verbosity can dissuade potential interest. For example, professionals in the West prefer to keep their writing simple and easy-to-understand; whereas those in the East like to explain, elaborate and elucidate using stronger vocabulary and formality in their tones.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with either approaches, but when working globally, a new global approach to communication is on the rise.

This brings me on to my second tip which is to think culturally. Consider any inter-cultural factors (if applicable) that may need reflecting in order to create and maintain long-standing business relationships with international customers and businesses.

Whether you are doing business in Bangladesh or Dubai, what are the cultural customs, salutations, greetings, norms which professionals follow there? Keeping these in mind when you work abroad will definitely impress.

Finally, my third tip would be to know and reflect your understanding between translation and transliteration. If English is not the language you use on an everyday basis, but you still need it to reach out to a wider market, you will need to ensure that your writing is translated – i.e. to change speech from your first language into English – and not transliterated – i.e. changing letter to letter from your first language into English. You see, transliteration replaces one word with another- without changing the meaning; while translation is the process of finding an equivalent word that means the same in English as it does in your first language.

For example: The Royal London Hospital – English
রয়াল লন্ডন হস্পিতাল - transliterated in Bengali
রাষ্ট্রীয় লন্ডন হাসপাতাল - translated in Bengali

Cultures from the Emerging Economies, e.g. the BRICS group, are becoming more influential in business, which is why communicating globally emanates from a strong cultural basis.

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