Cross-Cultural Confusion in Today’s Messaging

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Messaging platforms – from SMS text messaging and email, to mobile chat apps and desktop chat software – are extremely diverse and span the spectrum of business-to-business, business-to-employee, and business-to-customer communications. While the utilization of these platforms across all business activities may seem straightforward at first, there are many who find these tools challenging to use, especially when they are trying to communicate in different cultural settings.

Culture’s Impact on Enterprise Communication

According to many studies, cultural differences have a significant impact on verbal communication. Indeed, the internet and new messaging tools such as chat apps have provided people with an unprecedented level of interaction with other people from other cultural and social groups.

However, every culture has explicit and implicit communication practices that can be really difficult to understand via messaging platforms. For instance, if you crack a joke over text to your German friend and then they reply “g.”You might think that it is just a typo, but this actually means that they find your joke funny because the “g” stands in for the German word Grinsen – meaning grinning.

Therefore, addressing the challenges in intercultural communication through modern messaging tools is vitally important for companies and organization as workforces become more diverse and global.

Strategies For Effective Intercultural Messaging

Although modern mobile communication tools such as SMS, WhatsApp, Telegram and WeChat are, by nature, a casual way of communication, using them for business requires more careful consideration. Here are some strategies to use mobile messaging tools the right way, wherever you are in the world:

1. Know When to Text or Call

In some high-context cultures like Japan, Mexico or theMiddle East, relationship-building is important, and texting is still viewed as a more personal way of communicating than email. Therefore, do not start texting a business contact before you have met and established a rapport with them. Low-context cultures such as in the US and Europe are more inclined to texting, although it is still not ideal to text someone you have never met.

2. Keep It Formal and Neutral

Even if you are texting a long-time colleague or a loyal customer, it is always important to keep your tone neutral and professional. Depending on whom you are texting with, you should avoid using common abbreviations like OMG and IKR as it will only make you sound like a teenager and the recipient may not understand what you mean. Lastly, do not text in all caps because it is considered yelling and you will be perceived rude by the recipient.

3. Consider Adding Your Name

The recipient of your message may not have your contact in their device, so it’s better to sign your name at the end of the message. Receiving a reply saying, “Who are you?” from a potential business partner can be very embarrassing.

4. Use Emojis Carefully

Using emojis in text messages is fast becoming a common practice in workplace communication. In fact, a recent study conducted by Monica Riordan, a psychology professor at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, revealed that using emoticons and emojis can make neutral messages more positive and reduce the negativity of downbeat ones.

But this doesn’t mean that you can just put a smiley face emoji in every chat or text message you send to a business contact. Again, you must first consider the degree of rapport you have with them as well as the context of the conversation you are having with them.

Contact TeleMessageto learn more about how our enterprise messaging solutions can help you achieve compliant use of enterprise messaging today.

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