Some generic, proven in practice, communication tips for making everyone’s life easier:
Do not end your opening messages with just Hi / Hey / Hello / Hello bhai / Assalaumu alaikum/ How are you? / Kemon achhen?/I have a question—type of sentences. Add your issue/actual-message/questions along with your greetings right in the first message you send to somebody.
❌ Don’t do this:
Message–2: How are you?
Message–3: I have a question for you.
[Expecting a response! Waiting for 30 seconds!]
Message–4: Do you work at the Airport?
Message–5: Do you know if the Kolkata flight is delayed?
[Without specifying the details of the flight]
✅ This could have been one single message:
“Hi, hope you are doing great! I guess you work at the airport, do you know if today’s morning Biman flight from Kolkata is delayed?“
And the ideal response would be:
“Hey, I am doing great! Thank you! Yes. The BG192 from Kolkata is delayed for an hour.“
Do not respond with just “Yes / No /Ok” specially over email or text messages. Always repeat what you are affirming for negating. Example:
— Hey, are you done? Are you coming to the meeting at office tomorrow?
❌ — Yes.
✅ — Yes, done, coming to office tomorrow.
Texts messages can be confusing. Always repeat the whole thing clearly. Specially dates and times.
— By the way, the meeting has been moved to 10th November, at 16:30 Dhaka time.
❌ — OK.
[Don’t write just “Ok,” always repeat the time and date]
✅ — Ok, I’ll join at 16:30 on 10th November.
3 Specially if you deal with international crowds frequently, It is better to ask someone about what should you call them by, name, part of name, title, pronouns, and also how to pronounce the name. It is better to ask about their names, rather than making an embarrassing mistake.
In various cultures, calling someone by their first name or last name can mean different things. Whereas, in different parts of the world, the first name may not be the given name, and the last name may not be the family name. Bangladesh’s current Prime Minister commonly goes by Sheikh Hasina, here Sheikh is her family name, Hasina is her given name, she is not called Sheikh, she is Hasina. Another example, the national poet of Bangladesh is Kazi Nazrul Islam, here his given name is Nazrul, he is Nazrul, he is neither Kazi nor Islam. In Japan, the given name and family name is often said in reverse, they say Uzumaki Naruto—that person’s given name is Naruto, Uzumaki happens to be his mother’s family name. Always ask, and don’t just assume!
Also learn about local cultural honorific/titles words used before or after names, like bhai, apa, apu, saheb, khun, ji, san, chan, ko etc.
Ideally in email signatures, you can note down the name you go by, the pronouns you prefer, and a phonetic explanation of how to pronounce your name.
Nowadays I write this explanatory line in my email signature:
[Goes by Tauheed, Pronunciation: taao-heed, Pronouns: He/Him]
4 While officially addressing or inviting couples, partners or family members to an event, cut the bullshit of who is who of whom. The safest way to invite is, treat everyone as an individual invitee, address them separately.
Don’t invite “Mr Rahman and Spouse.” Someone can not be just Mrs Rahman. Find out her name, address her by full name, invite her separately with separate email/cards/invitations, probably her presence or existence has nothing to do with Mr Rahman, and that’s none of your business. Vice versa for other genders.
5 After writing yesterday/tomorrow or day after, always specify the date in a bracket. Example: I may not be able to join the meeting tomorrow (5th November). People often mistake the information in a thread of conversation when they just see today, yesterday or tomorrow when they check the message back on a different day.
6 Learn the universal phonetic words for English letters: Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India, Juliet, Kilo, Lima, November, Oscar, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, X-ray, Yankee, Zulu.
Avoid the confusion by explaining someone your name or email over phone by shouting “it’s b, beeee not d! it’s b for balls” or something similar. No it is not balls; it is always b for Bravo, throughout the world across most industries it is B for Bravo, D for Delta on the phone. Please memorise the standard phonetic words for English letters.
7 Avoid AM/PM, use 24hr time format. Avoid numbers to mean months altogether, always spell out the name of the month in full or three letters shortcuts like jan, feb.
Due to the inconsistency of date writing format throughout the world 1.3.21 can mean both 3rd January and 1st March of 1921 or 2021. Better to write 3rd Jan 2021 or Jan 3rd 2021, or 3 Jan 2021. Bottomline, never a number for months, always letters, and 4 digits for years.