Thursday, August 30, 2012

The working life: Dear Sir or Madam

Part of my new job is working with overseas customers. For my customers who speak Spanish, I write my emails in Spanish. It's a slow process, as it's been years since I used Spanish at work and since I did a lot of writing in Spanish, but google translate is useful. They don't always get it right, but it's a good start and I correct what they say. It seems that google translate does not really understand the subjunctive, which is a problem for many English speakers learning Spanish. But I write in Spanish and it's not perfect, but it's decent and I think the customers, who often reply in English, appreciate it.

For other languages, I have to default to English. I suppose I could do the same thing for French and Portuguese - start with google translate and go from there, but I haven't had the need to use either language. It would be very useful if I spoke Malay or Chinese or Arabic, though.

But I don't. Which is why I have googled the people I am writing to so I can determine if the person is a he or a she.

I have also googled to learn more about prospects. I discovered - after getting a LinkedIn invitation from a prospect whom I had googled - that if one is logged into LinkedIn and one looks at the profiles of other members, other members know that one has looked at them.

Which makes me think about the googlestalking I have done of old boyfriends. Hey. I'm curious. I like to know how the story ends. And in many cases, I want to satisfy myself that I am better off without the jerk. I have to say that I am better off without all of them, so it all worked out. SH was worth waiting for. But I still want to know.

So yeah - I googled a prospect and he sent me a LinkedIn invitation asking me why I had looked at his profile. I didn't want to say, "Because I want to make sure that you are not a complete loser and liar and that my company is interested in doing business with you." It was awkward. Especially because I don't think we want to work with this guy. Oh well.

Most of my googling, though, is just to learn if I should address someone as "Mr" or "Ms." Sometimes, it's to try to figure out which is the first name and which is the last. I have to tell you that google has been useless for that.

So I can understand why this customer in Hong Kong can't get my information right. I can understand why this customer (fortunately, this customer is "Dr Fong," so I don't have to worry about which title is correct) might call me "Mister."

What I can't understand is why, in the same email chain, all in one week, Dr Fong calls me, "Mr Class Factotum," "Factotum," "Mr Class R," and "Mr Factotum Class." Maybe he's waiting for me to answer, "That's it! You've guessed the correct answer!"

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