Two weeks ago I was working in the CZech Republic, in the beautiful city of Prague. We had 8 (plus me) different nationalities represented.
One thing that did not come up was cultural email differences. Why?
The reason is simple: Every sales professional in the room, whether Czech, French, British, German, Ukraine, Russian, Brazilian or Latina, understood the value of courtesy.
Courtesy. Extending your hand. Putting your best foot forward. Making the most professional representation of your company and yourself.
With that said though, are their differences in approach?
Absolutely. We Americans are far less formal (and civil!) than many other parts of the world. Immediately calling someone by their first name, in the USA, is almost expected. In most instances, we go out of our way to “equalize” our footing with superiors.
Other cultures don’t and we shouldn’t either when communicating with them. Even in LinkedIn when I’m attempting to connect with an international colleague of a certain rank or age, I will always address him/her as Mr or Mrs.
Here are 4.5 other considerations that work in North America and across the ponds:
1. Start with a greeting.
Take the time to type Hi, Hello, Good morning. It takes just a few seconds and not only shows courtesy and manners but sets the best tone for the email. It doesn’t matter if your 20 or 70 or if your recipient is, begin at least your first email of the day to that person with a greeting.
2. Cut to the chase, courteously.
Wasting another’s time is disrespectful. Take the time to organize your thoughts before you write so that you can make it easy for the other person to follow you. Be as concise as possible, always with a touch of courtesy.
3. Make the next step easy for them.
The more you require your reader to act or think, the less likely they are to do so.
Write conference call times in their time zone rather than yours.
Provide your skype address the first time.
Type your phone number out with the appropriate international area codes – with dashes in between [+1-480-575-9711) so that it is tappable and easy for them to use.
4. Don’t ask them questions they feel they have to answer that are just inauthentic rapport building for you.
If you must begin with a “warm welcome,” make a statement rather than pose a question:
This is better:
I trust this finds you well.
How are you?
Neither expression is very compelling however and you’d be better off beginning with the business at hand and closing with a kind, authentic, personal comment.
4.5 Know your audience and their culture.
The way you write needs to appeal to them. The more you tailor how you present yourself to their standards, the more successful you’ll be. But you knew that, right?!
What other ideas do you have to ensure cultural differences are honored and respected?