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Do you use the word “today” in your emails?

March 4, 2011 - 3 Comments

The other day I was reading a blog post from the Guardian’s Mind Your Language Blog and was interested to learn that The Guardian is following in The BBC’s footsteps and has dropped most references to words like “today”, “tomorrow”, “yesterday”, “tonight” and so on from reports on their website. Many of their readers are spread out across the globe and such words will have different meanings for them, depending on which time zone they are in. These national newspapers feel that by including words like “yesterday” and “today” (unless a day is still relevant), they are in fact excluding a large sector of their readers.

This got me thinking about my role as a Project Manager at Cisco. One of the perks of working for a Global Corporation is that I get to work with so many different people from around the world. I am based in the UK and my team are primarily based in Brussels (with one of our team members situated in Israel) and between us we can speak 16 different languages including Somalian, Serbian and Telugu. I also work closely with the U.S., Japan and China on a number of projects.

One of the things that I have learnt working in such a diverse team is not to “ostracise” people through my language:

If I am arranging a meeting with someone who lives in a country, say Brussels, I try not to say “Are you free at 11am?” (meaning 11am my time). Instead, I will say “Are you free at 12pm your time which is 11am my time?” The same goes for when I am confirming a meeting. This can also save a lot of confusion later on too!

  • My manager and his direct reports have a weekly meeting and we try to use Cisco Teleprescence to host these meetings to create a greater sense of interaction and collaboration within the team

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  1. I like to use ‘today’ if in the same timezone, while specifying the date in brackets if needed. I also follow your convention of ’12pm your time which is 11am my time?’

    I don’t think any more than this is needed to be efficient.

  2. Interesting post. I always make sure to use the day of the week I am talking about instead of yesterday/tomorrow and I qualify the time zone in the time I am proposing.

    I have found that with email, one cannot be sure when the other party is reading the note, thus the need to use the day of the week, rather than yesterday/tomorrow.

  3. My client’s span every continent and over 17 different countries, so as you say “today” is not really feasible. I just use “CST” (as we’re in Austin, TX) so “I’ll be here in the office until 8PM CST, I look forward to your call!” is what works best here!