What is Business English? Where does it come from? What’s it for? What makes it different from non-business English? Ways of communicating both verbal and written have developed over centuries, but the protocols have never changed faster than now. We must be adequately equipped with the relevant knowledge and understanding of the business that we represent to adapt to its culture, customs, norms, and practices. Who we are and what we do will be clearly reflected in our oral and written interactions.
The world is fast changing and many will be left behind. And even legal practices need to balance between the future and precedent.
Business communication is not just about writing letters. While it is important, it is but a small part of doing business. Of course you need to be able to write business correspondence, whether letters, emails or texts.
Communication also embraces the world of oral business communication, be that face-to-face, phone or social media. Networking gives opportunities only if you know how to behave, engage people and negotiate. Building rapport and improving communication are key ways of getting and retaining business, and are different when dealing with British, American, or other genres where English is used.
But one size does not fit all. As with all communication its not just following the learnt routine – you need to know your audience and tailor your communication to them. One man’s business English is another man’s flippant communication by a young upstart not showing respect to his elders. Or some boring long winded diatribe for those brought up on instant messaging. The conflict between story telling and the inverted triangle means you have to consciously chose the approach to take. Regardless of ethnicity, age, race or sex some people are more emotional others more logical, some need lots of detail some insist on hardly any.
As customers rightly expect omnichannel rather than multichannel it is a skill to balance between the curt and the long-winded. British English and American English have the same words which mean different things (some very rude). Indian English has a different vocabulary too. See the typical reaction when a Brit is told ‘I will revert back to you’. Different cultures read differences nuances in identical sentences.
You might expect that ‘legal’ English is the same throughout the world. There is no international standard of easily understood terms. And the balance between being ‘legal’ and ‘understood’ is harder than ever.
This is why you need to work towards building rapport to create a lasting impact through your interactions, presentations, negotiations, meetings, networking, socialising, listening, speaking, writing and reading. Getting the protocol of correcting mistakes and holistic communication in the global marketplace is essential to succeed in the business arena and the wider economy.