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How to get a speedy response when emailing abroad

American correspondence comes with certain expectations from senders and recipients, but this is not always true when communicating internationally, so let’s talk about how to best ensure you get a response.



Improve the success of speedy correspondence

While the world is getting smaller and we all seem connected, these three tips will help mitigate the blunders that impede prompt communication from overseas.

When doing business overseas, it can be challenging to get connected to the right person or get a response when connected. Many people tend to blame lack of interest or language discrepancy but really, it’s the cultural and communication barriers that impede prompt communication. In business, many in China speak, read, and write English very well, so it’s not a language barrier as much as it is a cultural one.

Here are 3 keys to ensure correspondence responses:

1. Signature with correct title. Many in corporate America use the status-clarifying, all-important signature block when using email. But often, small business owners don’t. Regardless of company size or industry, using an appropriate signature block will work wonders when communicating overseas, especially with Asia. Be sure to include your name, title and direct contact info.

2. Set clear expectations. Since English is typically a Chinese business professional’s second language, it is important to leave out the hyperbole, metaphor, idiom, and slang. Stick to clear and concise yes/no questions. Set expectations in terms of response method, date, and time. In the case of international correspondence, sometimes bullet points or the outline method can be useful in breaking down large ideas into more digestible action items. It’s also important to include any action that has transpired on your end. Since there can be a lag in international communications, it is important to make sure you’re keeping the other party abreast of developments or movement.

3. Circle back Be aggressive in your international communications. It is crucial to show yourself not only committed to the business relationship, but invested in positive growth. Circling back is an easy way to do this and keeps you top of mind. If repeated checking in is proving futile, be sure to name drop (with purpose) if you need to get manager/director level executives involved. What may be perceived as a nuisance or micro-managing in America, is often seen as client nurturing in China and many other nations.

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Written By

Monica Moffitt, founder and Principal Cultural Consultant at Tianfen Consulting, Inc., has traveled the world and enjoys linguistics and all things culture. Having split her career between project management and business analytics, Monica merges logic, fluency in Chinese and creativity in her new role as cultural consultant. She received a Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Studies/Chinese from Vanderbilt University and a Master of Business Administration (International Management and Marketing) from University of Texas at Dallas.



  1. hse

    November 29, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    Before any email marketing campaign is sent out entirely it is highly recommended that companies test their mailers

  2. usamen24

    December 8, 2012 at 6:14 am

    Awesome post.

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