ImmerQi, as a China expert, would like to suggest you to follow these three steps when writing business messages in China; planning, writing and completing. In general, it is hard to say that the process varies from country to country or it is entirely different in China from other countries. However, there are a few things you must remember regarding Chinese business etiquette and manners before sending them out to your audiences.
First of all, when planning business messages, it is important to analyze what your purpose is and try to gather as much information as possible about the audience – such as; size, location, composition, expectation and reaction. As a next step, to fulfill your audiences’ needs or specific information that they are looking for, it is important to consider their perspectives. If you are still not sure what exactly they need or what exactly they are looking for, it is completely fine to ask for their input when following up. As any other message should be, the information needs to be accurate, pertinent and ethical. Also, you need to decide which approach to use, either direct or indirect to better understand your audience.
Once you have thought about planning business messages, the next step is writing. In this process, it is recommended to use the “you” attitude towards your audience. What is the “you” attitude in terms of writing business messages? Simply put, it is all about replacing terms like I or we, with you and yours. It is the best way to show that you are interested in the topic and the audience to discuss further.
However, in some occasions, it is recommended not to use the “you” attitude.
Also, emphasizing the positive before the negative (best not to even mention any) and controlling emotions to communicate smoothly and politely is important as well. Please do not use any gender, race, ethnic, age or disability biased languages. In addition, to build credibility in your messages, you should look out for sentences containing words such as hope or trust. It is better to show your confidence in the message. Especially, it is very important to think about the other party’s face, feelings and the person’s position in the industry, since they are highly valued in China. Also, it is recommended not to use the “you” attitude when conveying a negative message as well since you might fail to give face to the other person. You definitely do not want to offend anyone by not knowing his or her cultural values enough.
After you decided which attitude to use, it is now time to decide which voice you want to use. It is the best to avoid passive voice, however, will also depend on the context – it may be helpful to use passive voice when you want to be diplomatic or want to focus on issues primarily. Nevertheless, remember to avoid clichés and buzzwords and before sending out your business messages, do not forget to revise and evaluate! Once again, check if the information is all accurate, relevant, satisfying and if your attitude and voice are appropriate. The most important part in this process is to increase the readability – by improving your content, sentence, clarification and emphasis. Delete unnecessary words, sentences and try to get to the point by eliminating redundancies as well.
Once you followed the three steps, don’t forget to put down your email subject before you send out the email. Again, the email subject should be relevant to your business message!