LPR Global CEO’s Second Book Tops Korean Best Seller List
June 25, 2008 From The Focus Daily
LPR CEO Mikah Lee published her second best-selling book on June 5, 2008. Ms. Lee’s newest book titled “Business Email that Lays Golden Eggs” explains to Korean speakers how to write clear, concise business emails. The following article appeared in Korea’s Focus Daily Newspaper on June 17th and has been translated into English.
Thanks to the evolution of business communication technology, from the snail mail to the telex to the fax, email is now both the most effective and efficient means of communication the world of the international business today.
In an email interview with Ms. Mikah Lee, she asserted the importance of proper use of business language and email etiquette. Ms. Lee is the CEO of Toronto-based consulting firm LPR Global, which specializes in international trade and business strategy. According to Ms. Lee, people make mistakes when composing business emails mainly due to three factors: grammatical errors; cultural ignorance; and lack of business experience.
Grammatical errors can be avoided if people understand the subtleties of the language. For example, while the words “have to” and “should” imply obligatory responsibility, the former has a more imperative and forceful connotation, whereas the latter can make the same sentence sound more like a suggestion rather than a demand. For example, the sentence, “You should register on our website to use our extensive database.” or, “Registration on our website allows you access to our extensive database” sounds more appropriate than, “You have to register on our website to use our extensive database”.
Proper use of prepositions is also very important. For example, in a situation where one requests a favor from a client using the verb “ask”, the correct expression is “I’m writing to you to ask for photos of your hotel” rather than “I’m writing to you to ask photos of your hotel”.
Mistakes can also arise from cultural differences. For example, in Korea, labeling low PH soaps used in acne treatment as “acid soaps” does not cause much of a stir. However, such a term does not sound too pleasant in English! In this case, the term “astringent soap” would be more appropriate. To illustrate this point, many Korean emails end with the Korean equivalent of “keep working hard”. In English, these words do not deliver the same meaning as they do in Korean. Such a phrase would be interpreted differently in North American culture. “Thank you for your effort.” or, “I appreciate your hard work.” would be more comparable substitutes.
Lastly, lack of business experience can cause an excessive use of emotion or bluntness in business email. This can be harmful towards building good business relationships. Unexpected surprises or dissatisfying results may drive one to react emotionally. Although frustrating, one should always refrain from writing emails such as, “Why did you raise the price without giving us any notice? Do you expect us to continue to do business?” Instead, a business email should be phrased in a clear but non-confrontational manner, “We are disappointed by the recent price increase.” or, “It’s regrettable that you didn’t give us any notice regarding your recent price increase.”
Additionally, one can never overemphasize the importance of a prompt response to each and every email. Neglecting to do so can easily lead to failure of a business. “Failure to respond to emails on time may lead to an irreversible breakdown of the deal itself. The key to a healthy business relationship is keeping clients and partners informed and up-to-date with accurate and timely communication. If you continually fail to deliver a prompt and precise response, your client will be under the impression that you are not interested in or serious about doing business with him. It is always important to keep in touch – even with very brief messages – to show your commitment.” says Ms. Lee.
Today, email communication is a worldwide phenomenon. Understanding the differences in languages and cultures is critical towards forming global business relationships. If a lack of business experience is one’s main problem, professional consultation is highly recommended.
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