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Interview with Business English author Sudakshina Bhattacharjee

This interview with Sudakshina Bhattacharjee is one of two interviews with the co-authors of Improve Your Global Business English: The Essential Toolkit for Writing and Communicating Across Borders.

Can you tell us a little about yourself, Sudakshina?

Sudakshina BhattacharjeeI was born and raised in west London till the age of 12 and then I had moved to Kolkata (Calcutta), India, for further schooling.

I then came back to London and graduated with a BA (2:1) Hons in New Media Journalism with Film & TV Studies from Thames Valley University(now known as University of West London) between 2002-2005.

In 2009, I attained a professional diploma in Psychological Therapies from the Institute of Counselling, Glasgow, UK.

Since then, I have worked in several jobs in the print and online media, finance and education sectors. Since 2007, I have been lecturing in journalism and psychology at various further and higher education institutions in London and Kolkata.

I am also a freelance writer and a published poet. My published work is showcased here.

In early 2011, I got married to a dental surgeon in Kolkata, India and my life continues to be a continuous to and fro between London and Kolkata.

How did you go about co-authoring Improve Your Global Business English? How long did it take you to write it, and what were your favourite tools for getting the job done?

Improve Your Global English coverYes, this is an intriguing little story. Fiona and I are both professional writers and love anything to do with words. So, we met via Twitter and would exchange tweets etc. and one day Fiona said she would be in a part of London that was very near to where I live. So we decided to meet up. This took our virtual acquaintance into a proper friendship and we were in touch even more than before.

Just before I was going to Kolkata for my wedding, Fiona and I met up and she told me her publishers had approached her to write another book in addition to her previous Better Business English series. She invited me to think about some ideas as a co-author and get back to her once I’d settled down in my marriage.

A few months later, we devised the structure of the book via email and then wrote to the brief our publishers accepted in our detailed proposal to them. We then completed each draft chapter by email iteration and our editor approved them as we went, which saved a lot of time. We finished writing in about four months.

I suppose you could say our favourite tools during this whole process were email, Twitter (mainly DMs), Skype and the telephone.

What’s your best advice for people who need to communicate (in any language) in global business contexts?

How intriguing, as I have just created a videoblog post on this very subject.

Businesses are getting globalised by the day, which means a new culture is on the rise for the way we communicate globally. So, the best advice I could give would be for professionals to 1) Make your writing as clear as possible, 2) Keep intercultural factors in mind when working with professionals who are based in a foreign location – so as to not cause offence and also to impress. Finally 3) would be to proofread, proofread and proofread your writing, as silly errors which happen to us all can create an impression of being careless and sloppy.

How different are definitions of quality in business writing according to the perspectives of different cultures and organizations?

Well, most professionals say they prefer writing to be clear, but bizarrely, what happens is the moment they start to write is the exactly when they start making writing become complicated and embellished.

This does not impress and too much verbosity can dissuade potential interest. For example, professionals in the West prefer to keep their writing simple and easy-to-understand; whereas professionals in the East like to explain, elaborate and elucidate using stronger vocabulary and formality in their tones.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with either approaches, but when working globally, a new global approach to communicating is on the rise [viralpullquote background_color=”#dbdbdb” layout=”vs-quote-nine-layout” box_position=”right” font_style=”Tahoma, Geneva, sans-serif” font_size=”16″ font_color=”#d85015″ ]when working globally, a new global approach to communicating is on the rise[/viralpullquote].

In your experience, what are three very common business writing errors?

1. As a lecturer, I have often seen many of my students submit work which is conceptually fantastic, but also contains errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation. This is something that happens to us all and we trust the spell-check programs on our computers to help us resolve any errors. The trouble is, there are bound to be some errors which slip through such programs, so we should always revise our work manually before submitting.

2. When it comes to more practical work, like presentations and creative projects, elements like, styles, layouts and formatting often have minor errors which have cost students marks. This is rather unfortunate, especially when the work is conceptually sound and a little more effort would have enabled better scoring. If you are unsure of errors happening, ask someone you trust to take a look at your work. This will help.

3. This, of course, means factoring in the time to proofread and revise formatting, which I have seen many students and professionals have not been able to manage, because of either leaving work till the last minute or being bombarded with too much to do. Allowing yourself time to plan will help you heaps, believe me!

You’ve lived and worked in both London and Calcutta, can you tell us the best thing and the worst thing about each city from a business perspective?

Ah yes, both cities are home to me as I have spent crucial phases of my life in both places. The best thing about London is the sheer professionalism in the work culture and ethics; while the best thing about Calcutta is its social life – people really know how to have a good time over there.

On the flip side, the worst thing I find about London is people don’t have the time to stop and smell the flowers, if you pardon my pun. Smiling does wonders for the health and I wish my fellow Londoners would do that more. Conversely, in Calcutta, people can be nosy and judgmental quite overtly which can come as a culture shock to the uninitiated!

Thank you very much, Sudakshina 🙂

Improve Your Global Business English: The Essential Toolkit for Writing and Communicating Across Borders is available on Amazon

Angela Boothroyd

I'm a teacher and linguist who specializes in helping non-native English speakers speak English more fluently. I review books and interview authors for the Birds on the Blog Book Club - if you have any suggestions for reviews or interviews please let us know 🙂