Communication is a form of art. There are those who make the primary endeavor of their lives the mastery of this integrally necessary skill of human existence. Areas of ability developed by well-rounded communicators are numerous and thought-provoking, as part of good communication certainly involves the act of being thoughtful. To be thoughtful, considerate, respectful, and ethnocentric in communicatory attempts is of basic necessity if success is desired. Insult, either intentional or inadvertent, is not an effective communicator.
It would then be advisable to thoroughly investigate any situation that might place a businessperson near the gripping fingers of perceived rudeness, such as the transference of an inappropriately produced group email. The probability for insult increases when the variable of cultural differences is introduced into the communication equation. Let us begin to eliminate the crass little bugs in my boss’s email by investigating the concept of audience centering.
The email presented for my review and edit is not an audience centered document. This message is to be delivered to a group of English speaking fellow employees that would most likely not blink an eye either way. However, my task is to revise any problem areas in the document. I find that the document
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Knowing that the group is composed of Hong Kong natives might be a good first indicator to not use phraseology like “ASAP”, “pleased as punch”, “high time” and “level best”. Although their English may be impeccable, they are not likely to have had sufficiently extensive exposure to Americanisms to gather clear meaning from this idiomatic compilation. Perhaps instead of the use of so many colloquialisms, it would be wise to make use of more direct and generally understood terminology. This terminology doesn’t need to be of a childlike nature in terms of assumed understanding; it simply needs to include words that are more likely to have come up in a proper English class.
Slang aside, the next item on my list of disdained message components is the racially insensitive, prodding nature of the line: “It’s high time we shook hands in person and not just across the sea.”. The aforementioned “high time” begins the literary slaughter, and is then followed by a sea of shallowness. If it were not enough to call attention to the great “distance” between us all instead of promoting the intended harmony, this most horrible line serves to also confuse the listener. The nervousness initiated in first meetings does not need maximized by the introduction of perplexing ideas like shaking hands across the sea.
When a non-native speaker of any language is engaged in analytical, attentive listening of that language, they are attempting to assimilate the information without erroneous comprehension. Certainly, they do not want to seem unable to communicate effectively. Most of us in this merging planet try to patiently and kindly understand the intended meaning of foreign words or broken words of our home tongue as they are spoken to us. My boss needs to know that he needs to spend a little time revising his own words, especially in the delicately-balanced realm of understanding different ethnicities.
I have decided that instead of trying to explain the profound ineffectiveness of my boss’s letter to him, I am simply going to rewrite it. When I present it to him for his approval, hopefully he will accept the “advice” with grace.
The new email was approved by the boss and now reads:
Hello and welcome home. I am happy to finally have the opportunity to meet all of you in person. Although we have been separated by great distances in the past, may we all join together now in the name of business and prosperity. It is my honor to work with all of you. Please let me know if there are any ways in which I may help you in settling into your new jobs, and your new homes. Thank you.
This message was delivered and well received by our new employees. They were not threatened by the easily understandable terminology utilized in the audience centered rewrite. My boss was relocated within the company to our Alaskan base. His particular communicatory skill set is far better suited for crabs and bears than the ears of humans.
China Highlights: Hong Kong. 2006
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 26 August 2006