Before I relocated, I was the type that would send a casual email, write or communicate in this format:
“Dear Sir/ Ma,
I hope this email finds you well?
I am sending this email because I am….”
And then, of course, I’d end the email with a “Yours sincerely”. Actually, I think I frequently used “Best regards” Haha!
Did you notice that there was no form of abbreviation or nada?! I’d read and re-read my email to be sure that I had made no errors and to ensure that the email depicted me to be a formal person.
Maybe it was the culture, now that I think of it.
My official letters were more stringent and extremely formal. I’m not sure if it was because I was a trained lawyer at the time, or if it was because of the British system that Nigeria has adopted.
I’d chose to go with the latter. But I was just too damn stiff!
Personally, I like to be laid back every once in a while. So, I suppose there must have been the possibility that my writing was telling a different story from my personality.
Even though I actually enjoy writing because that way, I get to use words that I wouldn’t normally use if I were speaking. I don’t know- I guess that’s just me!
If you watch my YouTube videos, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. I tend to be a bit casual and I gesticulate a lot jeez!
On rare occasions when I was fortunate enough to proofread my friends’ write-up, brief, document or anything of that sort, you bet it wasn’t colloquial.
I’d restructure it to soothe the ‘professional world’. Who says that though?!
Frankly, I think that’s why most of my friends let me proofread their work though. I guess they wanted it to seem formal. Or so I love to tell myself irrespective.
In Canada, it’s the extreme opposite. Very informal style of writing and I must confess that this was difficult for me initially. It was difficult to adjust.
I’m not sure if it’s the Nigerian culture too, but I would feel uncomfortable starting out an email with “Hi” when I know that this person is a bit older. More so, when I’m not too sure the mood this person is in.
I later got to understand that this was as a result of the culture being high-context or low-context.
High-context cultures leave most of the message unspecified – to be understood through nonverbal cues, and between-the-lines of interpretation of what is actually said.
On the other hand, low-context cultures expect messages to be explicit and specific.
I never realized that my ‘formal style of writing’ had affected me as a professional, making it a little bit difficult to have good communication with others.
Because even after I relocated to Canada, I’d write in the same way. Not choosing to be a human being to the person receiving my email at the other end. Forgetting to take the culture into consideration.
Not accepting to take my geographical location and commonly accepted business language into mind.
And even when I initially started blogging, I’d fail to write the way I would normally speak. (okay, please don’t visit my old blog posts, they were just too rigid!)
So when the time came for me to adjust, it was indeed a difficult one.
Eventually, I had to learn to take these into practice. And with the help of genuine people who wanted the best for me, I have seen an improvement. Of course, I’m still a work in progress.
The question I’d love for you to ponder on is this: “Has your place of residence affected your business writing or general writing?”
I’d love to know as I’m just a bit curious. I think these things have a way of affecting each person at work.
I believe the most important thing is taking note of your geographical location and the culture in your writing style. Spending some quality time with people who constructively criticize you is also an important factor to keep in mind.
Consistently taking out intentional acts to improve yourself is as important too. Communication is one of the first steps used to fit into an organization and asides this, it helps us relate well with colleagues.
Please share with me how your geographical location affects your writing style. Do you take this into mind when sending out emails or communicating with others in the workplace?
I love hearing from you so please leave a comment behind.
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