Interactions with American clients – Useful tips.


Right from early adolescence, had been fond of English and its many vagaries. Jumping into Corporate World has taught me more than many things. Although, Americans are pretty cool about lingo, (sometimes end up using ‘WTF’ (What The F*ck) in the review comments) and erroneous too, it wouldn’t be prudent on our part to show an unpolished  linguistic skill. Here’s something really useful when you deal with the American counterparts:

Interactions with American clients – Useful tips

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, 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. You can say, ‘Please come again or could you please repeat.’

5.  Americans do not understand most of the Indian accent immediately – 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 preferable than “Do you understand me?”

9.   In email communications, use proper punctuation. To explain something, without breaking your flow, use semicolons, hyphens or parenthesis. As an example:

You have entered a new bug (the pop-up not showing up) in the defect tracking system; we could not reproduce it – although, a screen-shot would help. Notice that a reference to the actual bug is added in parenthesis 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.

21.       Avoid using “Back” instead of “Back” Use “ago”. Back is the worst word for American. (for Days use “Ago”, for hours use “before”)

22.    Avoid using “but” instead of “But” Use “However”.

23.    Avoid using “Yesterday” hereafter use “Last day”.

24.    Avoid using “Tomorrow” hereafter use “Next day”.

Corrections and additions are welcome. Hope this helps. If yes, do acknowledge! 🙂

4 comments on “Interactions with American clients – Useful tips.

  1. Wow. Amazing insight/observations. U really DO have a scientific way of thinking, even when regarding (talking about… haha) language and social mores. Brilliant. Oh… and a quarter to one, means it’s 12:45 (i.e., a quarter of an hour — 15 mins — until the said hour; for 1:15, Americans might say 1:15 or ‘a quarter after 1.’ 😉 Vishyyyyy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s