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! 🙂

How to Argue Effectively


Here is an interesting and truly effective piece I came across that I thought worth sharing :

How to Argue Effectively:

I argue very well. Ask any of my remaining friends. I can win an argument on any topic, against any opponent. People know this and steer clear of me at parties. Often, as a sign of their great respect, they don’t even invite me. You too can win arguments. Simply follow these rules:

Drink Liquor

Suppose you are at a party and some hotshot intellectual is expounding on the economy of Peru, a subject you know nothing about. If you are drinking some health-fanatic drink like grapefruit juice, you’ll hang back, afraid to display your ignorance, while the hotshot enthralls your date.

But if you drink several large martinis, you’ll discover you have strong views about the Peruvian economy. You’d be a wealth of information. You’ll argue forcefully, offering searing insight and possibly upsetting furniture. People will be impressed. Some may leave the room.

Make Things Up

Suppose, in the Peruvian economy argument, you are trying to prove that Peruvians are underpaid, a position you base solely on the fact that you are underpaid, and you’ll be damned if you’re going to let a bunch of Peruvians be better off.

Don’t say: “I think Peruvians are underpaid.”

Say instead: “The overage Peruvian’s salary in 1981 dollars adjusted for the revised tax base is $1,452.81 per annum, which is $836.07 below the mean gross poverty level.”

Note: Always make up exact figures. If an opponent asks you where you got your information, make that up too. Say: “This information comes from Dr. Hovel T. Moon’s study for the Buford commission published on May 9, 1982. Didn’t you read it?” Say this in the some tone of voice you would use to say, “You left your soiled underwear in my bathroom.”

Use meaningless but weighty -sounding words and phrases

Memorize this list:

Let me put it this way

In terms of


Per se

As it were


So to speak

You should also memorize some Latin abbreviations such as “Q.E.D”,”e.g.” and “i.e.” these are all short for “I speak Latin, and you don’t”. Here’s how to use these words and phrases. Suppose you want to say: “Peruvians would like to order appetizers more often, but they don’t have enough money.” You will never win an argument talking like that.

But you will win if you say, “Let me put it this way. In terms of appetizers vis-à-vis Peruvians quo Peruvians, they would like to order them more often, so to speak, but they do not have enough money per se as it were. Q.E.D.” Only a fool would challenge that statement.

Use snappy and irrelevant comebacks

You need an arsenal of all-purpose irrelevant phrases to fire back at your opponents when they make valid points. The best are:

You’re begging the question.

You’re being defensive.

Don’t compare apples to orange.

What are your parameters?

This last one is especially valuable. Nobody other than engineers and policy wonks has the vaguest idea what “parameters” means. Here’s how to use your comeback:

You say: “As Abraham Lincoln said in 1873…”

Your opponent says: “Lincoln died in 1865.”

You say: “You’re begging the question.”

You say: “Liberians, like most Asians . . ,”

Your opponent says: “Liberia is in Africa.”

You say: “You’re being defensive.”

Compare your opponent to Adolf Hitler

This is your heavy artillery, for when your opponent is obviously right and you are spectacularly wrong. Bring Hitler up subtly.

Say: “That sounds suspiciously like something Adolf Hitler might say.” or “You certainly do remind me of Adolf Hitler.”

So that’s it. You now know how-to out-argue anybody. Do not try to pull any of this on people who generally carry weapons.

So, all said and done. You are good to go here 😉