Cultural Competency

7 Writing Tips for Communicating with Diverse Cultures

Business Writing

(Photo Credit: Christian Science Monitor)

When sending written communication to business professionals from a culture different than your own, familiarize yourself with their written communication preferences and acclimate your approach, style, and tone to meet their expectations.  The following is a list of 7 highly recommended tips to consider:

1. Use simple, clear language. Use precise words that don’t have the potential to confuse with multiple meanings.

2. Be brief. Use simple sentences and short paragraphs, breaking information into smaller chunks that are easier to capture and translate.

3. Use transitional elements. Using transitions from sentence to sentence and from paragraph to paragraph helps your writing to achieve the cohesion and clarity it needs.

4. Address international correspondences properly.

5. Cite numbers and dates carefully.

6. Avoid slang, idiomatic phrases, and business jargon. Mundane writing is full of slang and idiomatic phrases, phrases that mean more than the sum of all of their literal parts. Your readers may have no idea what you’re saying when you use idiomatic phrases.

7. Avoid humor and other references to popular culture. Jokes and references to popular culture usually rely on subtle cultural issues that might be completely unknown to one’s readers.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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