IDEAL, Language and Culture in Brighton/England, has been coaching business executives from all over the world for the past 15 years. One of the most common questions raised by our customers has been how to communicate with both native and non-native business partners effectively.
The correct application of the “KISS”-principle is the IDEAL base and tool (which enables the successful implementation of) “Keep It Short and Simple”.
The words and sentences must not be too complex, complicated or long-winded. Is there a “no-frills” test (such as for e-mails) to make sure that one’s English is plain, to the point and easy to digest? Well, there are no simple tests. However, there are three areas of language that one can check and improve on, especially in e-mails.
1. SENTENCE LENGTH
There is a term that linguists call the “fog factor”. If a sentence is more than 16 words long, it can start to cause confusion. Shorter sentences are always easier to understand and easier to remember.
2. THE USE OF IDIOMS AND COLLOQUIALISMS
These are often difficult for non-native speakers of English. If in the e-mail, for example, the expression “it goes without a hitch” is used, a non-native speaker might have difficulty in understanding the meaning of it. One could have written “it goes well” instead. Equally, “no- frills” could have been replaced by “simple”.
3. HIGH-LEVEL VOCABULARY
Apart from “no-frills”, there are probably a couple of words in the third paragraph that some non-native speakers would find challenging. “Complex” (“complicated” is already mentioned) and “to digest” (one could say “to understand” instead) are only two examples of many you come across every day.
To sum up, always try, both in speaking and writing, to keep your communication and information flow as short and simple as possible. Be prepared to give up some stylistic perfection in order to be understood as well as possible.
We, at IDEAL-Language and Culture in Brighton/England, offer modules that focus on effective e-mail writing and speaking which are both of paramount importance in our fast-moving business world.