Don't Do This In Business E-mail Writing

The below five tips are suggested to avoid at work when interacting over email by the Business Insider. I will share their tips, along with how they apply to the majority of the companies I work with and the feedback from US clients and counterparts. 

1. Waiting to respond to an email until you know the answer — even if it takes days. 
Americans may be considered impatient by Indians, but to build a better relationship respond immediately or as soon as possible. Do not wait until they may reach their office in the morning (your evening in India). Remember, they will see the time stamp.

So, what do you do if you don't know the answer?
Let's say you know a partial answer - Send them a response answering whatever queries you can, and note that the unanswered ones will be answered as soon as possible.
You don't know the answer at all - Respond immediately to confirm you received the email and that you are working on the answer. Provide an estimated time it will take you to respond. Assure your respond in that time frame.

Do not wait until your status update call. Many Indians feel better about talking to the client on the call or if they will meet the person face to face, waiting until that meeting happens. This will not be a good idea. The earlier you can respond, and by email (or phone, and leaving a voice mail), the better impression you will leave.

2. Assuming that you don't need to respond if you're more junior than others receiving the email.
This is a common problem in India, especially in more traditional offices. If you are indeed the right person to answer this question, do hit respond and answer. Of course, this may disturb the natural culture in your office place. This is a company and team culture dilemma. If in fact your team's culture is that only the most senior person respond to emails or talk on the phone, it's better that only that contact is in touch with the client. Americans and Westerners expect to hear directly from the person doing the work, and not the manager unless there is a problem.

3. Sending out "gentle reminders."
Refer to the article for their advice. 

4. Responding to a serious or sensitive email with only "OK."
Responding to any serious or sensitive email with one word, regardless of that one word is bad etiquette. The sender of the original email may think you did not read the email. Plus, if there are many discussion points, the American will think you agree or will do everything in the email, especially, if you say 'ok'. Elaborate more, while being concise. Saying "ok" or one word is meaningless. The sender is not a mind reader, and will know what you actually read, and in most cases, the sender may think you did not read the email at all! Note what you agree to or are saying ok to. Find polite ways to decline or review the other topics later.

5. Sending emails that are too long or aren't clear about what action you're requesting
In sessions conducted by Authentic Journeys, we look at the steps of consolidating long emails into concise, bulleted emails that are easy and quick to understand and respond to. No one wants to get a long email. It is easier for the writer to write as he or she speaks, but this is not convincing business writing. Learn to consolidate your thoughts into bulleted categories for easier reading by the recipient. It will take you longer as a writer to apply this skill, but it will assure a better response rate for your emails both in a reduced response time and better or more agreeable responses.

Tips on writing complex emails in a concise way, click here.
To read this article and the tips from Business Insider, click here.

Jennifer Kumar will polish your Indian based teams to communicate more convincingly with their US or Western counterparts. Learn how your team can benefit and build the business by contacting us today.

Related Posts:
Importance of Phone Messages
The Indian Headshake - Confuses so Many! 
Avoid answering with only "ok" or "yes", and what to do instead 

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