During my career, I have communicated with people from many walks of life, from many different cultures and parts of the world. Especially as a freelancer, you have to communicate with people from the opposite side of the world frequently.
This isn’t meant as a definitive guide on this by any means, so please, if you wish to become better at communicating with people from other cultures, educate yourselves beyond this forum.
In this post, I’ll simply try to lay forth some examples, and explain how you can avoid coming across as rude and disrespectful, and how to be more helpful to your buyer or seller.
First off - let’s start with the grammar. I’ve made a post on this before (Why grammar is super important for us sellers ), so I won’t go too deep into the matter here, but simply put: learn how to write properly.
You don’t have to become fluent to write better content, messages, replies, or posts. But using tools such as Grammarly to correct spelling, and taking a course in whatever language you need to become better at, will help you in your communications with others.
How to address people
This comes up often on the forums. Many individuals from different parts of the world will use “dear”, “darling”, “bro”, etc. This is something you should avoid in all business matters.
It is way too intimate for people from the west, who would only use these salutations when talking to people close to them. If you are my designer, that does not make you my mom, or best friend. What you may consider polite, might be perceived by the recipient as being “fake”, or too intimate. In a professional setting, you should stick to names only.
I will design your logo.”
This might seem appropriate to some cultures, while it will seem inappropriate elsewhere. in contrast, “Hello, [name]” should be acceptable in almost any culture.
Simplify and communicate clearly
When communicating, try to not overcomplicate anything, by asking clear questions, and providing clear answers.
Always assume they mean well
Ok, so I’m a Norwegian native, working with clients from Spain, the UK, US, Germany, Norway, Brazil, Indonesia, China… The list goes on. I can’t possibly be an expert in the culture of all these countries, right? However, what I can do is letting go of my prejudice.
If I get a buyer from a different culture, and I notice this individual is communicating in a certain way that I might find rude, I always assume the intentions are good, and that they mean well.
When I stop for a second and think about a message that might come across as rude in my eyes, with the starting-point that they mean well, I can avoid difficult situations and misunderstandings.
I hope this helps anyone who is communicating across cultures to improve and enjoy working as a freelancer even more.
And I’m sure many on the forums have plenty to add to this!