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Friday, July 27, 2007

Interactions with American clients - Twenty tips

Dealing with any clients in services is an art. In the case of IT, we primarily deal with American clients (atleast in Photon). It is useful to know how the English language works with them.

1. Do not write "the same" in an email - it makes little sense to them.
Example -
I will try to organize the project artifacts and inform you of the same when it is done

This is somewhat an Indian construct. It is better written simply as:
I will try to organize the project artifacts and inform you when that is done


2. Do not write or say, "I have some doubts on this issue"
The term "Doubt" is used in the sense of doubting someone - we use this term because in Indian languages (such as Tamil), the word for a "doubt" and a "question" is the same.
The correct usage (for clients) is:
I have a few questions on this issue


3. The term "regard" is not used much in American English. They usually do not say "regarding this issue" or "with regard to this".
Simply use, "about this issue".

4. Do not say "Pardon" when you want someone to repeat what they said. The word "Pardon" is unusual for them and is somewhat formal.

5. Americans do not understand most of the Indian accent immediately - I have heard some of them say that they only understand 75% of what we speak and then interpret the rest. Therefore try not to use shortcut terms such as "Can't" or "Don't". Use the expanded "Cannot" or "Do not".

6. Do not use the term "screwed up" liberally. If a situation is not good, it is better to say, "The situation is messed up". Do not use words such as "shucks", or "pissed off".

7. As a general matter of form, Indians interrupt each other constantly in meetings - do NOT interrupt a client when they are speaking. Over the phone, there could be delays - but wait for a short time before responding.

8. When explaining some complex issue, stop occasionally and ask "Does that make sense?". This is preferrable than "Do you understand me?"

9. In email communications, use proper punctuation. To explain something, without breaking your flow, use semicolons, hyphens or paranthesis. As an example:
You have entered a new bug (the popup not showing up) in the defect tracking system; we could not reproduce it - although, a screenshot would help.

Notice that a reference to the actual bug is added in paranthesis so that the sentence flow is not broken. Break a long sentence using such punctuation.

10. In American English, a mail is a posted letter. An email is electronic mail. When you say
"I mailed the information to you"
, it means you sent an actual letter or package through the postal system.
The correct usage is:
"I emailed the information to you"


11. To "prepone" an appointment is an Indian usage. There is no actual word called prepone. You can "advance" an appointment.

12. In the term "N-tier Architecture" or "3-tier Architecture", the word "tier" is NOT pronounced as "Tire". I have seen many people pronounce it this way. The correct pronunciation is "tea-yar". The "ti" is pronounced as "tea".

13. The usages "September End", "Month End", "Day End" are not understood well by Americans. They use these as "End of September", "End of Month" or "End of Day".

14. Americans have weird conventions for time - when they say the time is "Quarter Of One", they mean the time is 1:15. Better to ask them the exact time.

15. Indians commonly use the terms "Today Evening", "Today Night". These are not correct; "Today" means "This Day" where the Day stands for Daytime. Therefore "Today Night" is confusing. The correct usages are: "This Evening", "Tonight".
That applies for "Yesterday Night" and "Yesterday Evening". The correct usages are: "Last Night" and "Last Evening".

16. When Americans want to know the time, it is usual for them to say, "Do you have the time?". Which makes no sense to an indian.

17. There is no word called "Updation". You update somebody. You wait for updates to happen to the database. Avoid saying "Updation".

18. When you talk with someone for the first time, refer to them as they refer to you - in America, the first conversation usually starts by using the first name. Therefore you can use the first name of a client. Do not say "Sir". Do not call women "Madam".

19. It is usual convention in initial emails (particularly technical) to expand abbreviations, this way:
We are planning to use the Java API For Registry (JAXR).

After mentioning the expanded form once, subsequently you can use the abbreviation.

20. Make sure you always have a subject in your emails and that the subject is relevant. Do not use a subject line such as "Hi".


Update
Ok, One of my friends forwarded me an email a couple of days back - in which someone STOLE this blog post; added some formatting; and are now sending it as a forward to everyone.
This is my first exposure to IP theft - and whoever took it should have atleast attributed to me.
Now, they have also added four other tips - and these are completely wrong. Let me list them here:
21. Avoid using "Back" instead of "Back" Use "ago".Back is the worst word for American.(for Days use "Ago",For hours use "before")

[Ram]You CAN say "Back". In fact Americans understand "back" better than "ago". Nobody says "four days ago" in the USA.

22.Avoid using "but" instead of "But" Use "However".

[Ram] It depends on the context. You CAN say "But".

23.Avoid using "Yesterday" hereafter use "Last day".

[Ram]Whoever says "I had dinner Last Day?". This is idiotic. You CAN say "Yesterday". It is the right thing to say.

24.Avoid using "Tomorrow" hereafter use "Next day".

[Ram]Again, whoever says "I will meet you Next Day?". You CAN say "Tomorrow".

Whoever took my post and added the last four tips is clueless.

20 Comments:

  • I feel this is a valid information to be posted in devphoton. Please do that. It would be helpful for everybody.

    By Blogger Venkat, at 10:07 PM  

  • This is an excellent piece of information.

    Can I build upon this and add some more?

    Prakash

    By Blogger Prakash Gurumoorthy, at 6:32 AM  

  • Yes, Prakash, please feel free to add other tips.

    By Blogger Ramiah Ariya, at 11:16 AM  

  • Good One Ram. We need to publish this. LIke Venkat says this needs to be published to all the devs. A few basic things that anyone interacting with American Clients need to know.

    By Blogger Runs, at 12:01 AM  

  • Ok, One of my friends forwarded me an email a couple of days back - in which someone STOLE this blog post; added some formatting; and are now sending it as a forward to everyone.
    This is my first exposure to IP theft - and whoever took it should have atleast attributed to me.
    Now, they have also added four other tips - and these are completely wrong. Let me list them here:
    21. Avoid using "Back" instead of "Back" Use "ago".Back is the worst word for American.(for Days use "Ago",For hours use "before")

    [Ram]You CAN say "Back". In fact Americans understand "back" better than "ago". Nobody says "four days ago" in the USA.

    22.Avoid using "but" instead of "But" Use "However".

    [Ram] It depends on the context. You CAN say "But".

    23.Avoid using "Yesterday" hereafter use "Last day".

    [Ram]Whoever says "I had dinner Last Day?". This is idiotic. You CAN say "Yesterday". It is the right thing to say.

    24.Avoid using "Tomorrow" hereafter use "Next day".

    [Ram]Again, whoever says "I will meet you Next Day?". You CAN say "Tomorrow".

    Whoever took my post and added the last four tips is clueless.

    By Blogger Ramiah Ariya, at 2:39 AM  

  • Cool :)
    Actually no one knows who is copying from our blogs, as you told atleast they should atleast have some courtesy to add the author's name.
    People have to grow up a lot.
    There exists a site, in which if you paste your content of a particular site and search, it will throw pages with same contents, by that we can get a clue. But the problem is, it is not 100% effective in the sense, it gives you result only once. I forgot the site name, will update once i find out

    By Anonymous Bala, at 5:47 AM  

  • The site is www.copyscape.com
    This will clearly list out the copied contents.

    By Blogger Bala, at 7:43 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Pavithra, at 8:52 PM  

  • Many people have started blogging and it is good to post some useful info.But I find most of the blogs are just the photocopy.As Ram and Bala said they should atleast mention the authors name or should write their own views.Recently i read a blog, which has been copied from a news site.The most funniest thing was the person has copied the copyright statement of that(news)site and also the ads(with images) ;) It was looking very funny.

    By Blogger Pavithra, at 9:37 PM  

  • Nice compilations Ram I am greedy for more :). By the way,your interests are very similar to mine except few.

    By Blogger maha, at 11:45 PM  

  • Nice compilations Ram I am greedy for more :). By the way,your interests are very similar to mine except few.

    By Blogger maha, at 11:46 PM  

  • Ram,this is a pretty intresting article and a very useful one too!

    Looking forward to a few more of the same kind!

    By Blogger simy, at 2:44 AM  

  • Ram, would be great if you can share some thoughts on corporate skills/organisational behavior

    -Smitha

    By Blogger simy, at 2:46 AM  

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