A site visitor was curious and pondered:
I belong to a global organization. Is there a source that gives cultural guidelines for sending emails to team members (or customers) of different elasticities and nationalities? Or, in our global electronic age, does the culture element matter? I often wonder how a recipient would react to a different greeting or closing from his or her unique cultural perspective. Thanks for your help.
That’s a great question! And you are correct in noting how a different greeting or closing can be perceived differently between cultures.
With that said, email etiquette is email etiquette. Any differences that would apply on business letterhead, would certainly apply in email. Although I cannot think of any specifics in that regard.
Where the cultural difference mostly comes into play for email is reflecting the proper level of formality. In some cultures, lack of formality is literally reflective of a lack of respect.
How a recipient would react based on his or her unique cultural perspective is where the level of formality comes in. One cannot assume that the entire globe will appreciate the informality that many in the United States display in their email communications.
When it comes to business email communications, some still relay a too relaxed tone or presentation. All based on the assumption that email is informal.
Formality is Key
When it comes to business email communications, formality rules the day. That is why you want to use the highest level of formality. That is until which time the other side reflects otherwise. You’ll know when that is the case based on the level of formality in their responses.
When forming global relationships it behooves businessmen and women to become familiar with the culture of those they intend on doing business with. That’s simply smart business.
By doing so you help to make sure you don’t use any terms or phrases that may cause misconceptions. Or show a lack of understanding or respect for other cultures.
What it comes down to is the fact that courtesy and formality are universal!