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World's Worst Cultural Mistakes

Signing Off with a Kiss

Where It’s Offensive: Potentially anywhere.

What’s Offensive: The ease and brevity of global e-mail has allowed us to dispense with formalities that we might use over the phone or in person, but beware being overly familiar when e-mailing overseas, or using e-speak or emoticons that might not translate, like BTW, TTFN, LOL, or ;-) or ;-/ to indicate winking or confusion. E-mail sign-offs can also give pause. Americans and Brits send the merest acquaintances messages ending with xxoo, which an Arab recipient might find shocking and offensive. Similarly, don’t think the Chinese are summoning the devil when departing with “666” (that’s good luck), or that a French or Dubai pal has made a typo with “Cdlt” (a shortcut for cordialement) or “Aa” (slang for the Arab greeting Assalamu alaikum).

What You Should Do Instead: Stick to words, keep it short and courteous, and unless you know the recipient well, hold back on the kisses and hugs.

From the article World’s Worst Cultural Mistakes


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