How and why to adapt your writing to global culture

‘Get to the point—quickly and concisely.’ It’s been drummed into our Western heads. In some regions, though, that’s considered rude. Here’s how and why you should vary your approach.

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We all agree that business writing should be clear, concise and direct, right?

As any business writing expert—including me—will tell you, you have to keep things simple, get straight to the point and ditch the jargon.

What you may not know—and what many business writing experts also fail to realize—is that this attitude about writing is not universal.

The idea that you should “keep things simple, stupid” is culturally determined. For many writers whose first language isn’t English, the idea that “clarity is king” is greeted with surprise.

Different cultures, different views on writing

The disparity stems from differing cultural attitudes to the relationship between writers and readers. According to linguist John Hinds, in Anglo-Saxon cultures such as the U.K., the U.S. and Australia, the burden is on writers to make their meaning clear.

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