BSI - Business Strategies International

Guidelines for Effective Communications

Basic Communications Guidelines


David JamesHere is what you need to do to minimize language problems in your Asia-Pacific business communications:

Write and Speak Clearly

Especially, remember to write and speak clearly and concisely. If you are communicating in writing, use short, declarative sentences and avoid jargon, difficult words, subtle meanings and humor. If communicating face-to-face or on the telephone, do the same, and speak deliberately and enunciate clearly.

Put Your Counterpart At Ease

If you, but not your counterpart, are communicating in your first language, try to let your counterpart know that exceptional skill in your language is not expected. Compliment your counterpart’s language skills, without being patronizing. Invite your counterpart to keep written responses brief and simple and to keep conversations and meetings short. Apologize for not being able to converse in your counterpart’s first language.

Don’t Play Games

If the language used is not your first language, do not risk a relationship by feigning a lack of understanding (for example to gain time to respond or some other advantage) if you do in fact understand. If the language is your first language, do not consciously use words that will confuse your counterpart or heighten the counterpart’s discomfort.

Use Translators and Interpreters

For important written communications, such as formal proposals and marketing materials, go to the trouble and expense of having them professionally translated into the language of your counterpart. For meetings, even if conducted in your first language, take an interpreter with you who can assist in clarifying points of discussion.

Be Helpful

In response to written communications and during conversations, do not let a linguistically imperfect comment or statement lie there in awkward silence. Help your counterpart to clarify the point. But overlook mistakes that are not important to the matters under discussion.

– David James

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