Dubai is a fascinating, frustrating, endearing and just plain old strange place at times. However, there is one thing that binds roughly 85% of us together, and that is that we are all expats in this amazing land. And for many expats that means conversing daily in a language that is not your mother tongue and instead using English speaking and writing skills. And, let’s face it, the better your English communication skills are, the better the opportunities that come your way.
Dubai is a competitive city, and real estate is probably the most competitive job around. We talk a lot about service levels in Dubai, and the use of proper business English language is one way to boost your (perceived) service levels.
At every stage in the buying process – both buyers and sellers are comparing you to other agents they have spoken to. And if you are doing this transaction in English as a second language, nailing proper business English can get you ahead.
We have outlined some common expressions used in Dubai and the alternative business English version. In a competitive market, every secret weapon can add more commission to your pockets.
‘May I know your good name?’
‘May I know your good name’ used to be polite but is not necessary for a business setting. Proper business English allows for, “May I ask your name, please.”
‘Kindly revert back to me’
Oxford Dictionary defines revert as “return to a previous state, practice, topic, etc.” Revert back is like saying “go back.” Instead say, “Please get back me” or “Please reply at your earliest convenience.”
Ma’am and Sir’
I am from Texas and my grandparents instilled in me using Ma’am and Sir when I was asked a yes/no question. “Yes, ma’am.” However, these terms should be used sparingly in an on-going conversation. After the initial ma’am or sir, you do not need to continue to use these terms. In fact, many people, including yours truly, prefer being called their name.
This is especially problematic if you don’t know the gender of the individual you are addressing. It’s much more personal to use either a person’s first name or if you prefer formality, “Dear Ms Smith.” If you do not know the gender of the person then err on the side of caution and use the person’s first name.
Let’s say you get a lead from someone named “Bobby Smith.” Bobby Smith could be either a male or female, it is best to err on the side of caution and use, “Dear Bobby.” Gender misidentification is not a good first impression. Should you get a lead from an organisation, say “Bayut Academy”, you have a few options. If you are calling someone just say, “I have received a lead from someone at Bayut Academy.” If you are responding to an email, you can either address it to, “Dear Bayut Academy” or you can say, “To whom it may it concern” or even “Dear ma’am or sir.” However, we prefer the first usage as it is more personal.
‘BHK’ is very confusing to people who are not from the Southeast Asian region, where its use seems to have originated. We see this a lot in the headline for property listings and its use can be perplexing. All properties (save studios) have bedrooms and kitchens so no need to focus on this. For many expats, it is a meaningless term, so we recommend using terminology that is understood by everyone, like “one-bedroom apartment.”
‘Kindly do the needful’
This is a lovely expression and was once used in the UK but its use died out after the Victorian Age. When dealing with some expats its use may be perplexing especially if “the needful” is not clarified. For instance, sending a contract with instructions to “do the needful” is not nearly as concise as “please sign the attached contract and do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions.” We love this expression but its use may be confusing to those who are not already familiar with it.
These are a few of the expressions we hear regularly in Dubai and the recommended business alternative. Improving your English speaking & writing skills should be a must across all sales roles. If you’re a broker and you’d like to work on your English communication skills or other ways to improve sales, contact Bayut’s Senior Customer Experience Manager, Caroline Tinkle at email@example.com.