Whether in private life or in business: Christmas correspondence is a small but not insignificant aspect of communication, something which can prove tricky, especially in turbulent times. In this blog, over the course of the last few years, defined as they were by the Covid 19 pandemic and the way we navigated ourselves out of it, we compiled Tips on how to write Christmas greetings for our customers and readers. Those articles addressed the human and economic consequences of that situation, and how to go about getting your message across at Christmas despite problems with the postal system. Essentially, those tips are equally valid now, although the crisis we now face, arising from the war in Ukraine and the associated uncertainties in relation to energy supply, energy costs and inflation, is an entirely different phenomenon altogether.
Our aim in this article is to help you to strike the right tone, and to include the right content, in your Christmas greetings.
Why Christmas greetings are now so important
To an increasing extent, our world seems to be- coming apart at the seams. It would be easy to gain the impression that one crisis is merging seamlessly into another one, that we appear destined never to emerge from the downward spiral of bad news and that everything, instead of getting better, is instead becoming ever more threatening.
Which in turn begs the question as to whether Christmas greetings and the traditions associated with that seasonal mood remain meaningful today, or may instead border upon denial of reality, being viewed through rose-tinted glasses. In point of fact, the reverse is true: most especially during difficult times, special importance attaches to wishing others well at Christmas. A few personal lines that express a bond based on friendship and that let those you write to know that you are thinking of them.
Christmas greetings and in particular paper Christmas cards have a particularly special role to play because they express the kind of continuity that we are missing so badly at present, or fear may be getting lost. In uncertain times, we derive particular delight from what familiar and enduring to us. Receiving Christmas mail gives people an enchanting hint of angel wings and stardust, all with the intention of inviting smiles on everyone’s faces.
Further aspects are added to that when you write to your business partners: upholding the ritual of the Christmas greeting demonstrates clearly that your company, even when times are hard, holds firm to customs that exist to delight us, and that you really value contact with them, as a matter of priority. You are also demonstrating that you do not withdraw support when the going gets tough. In other words, you show that you are a loyal and dependable partner worthy of their trust and confidence. Which means that your few lines at Christmas can help to confirm to your business partners that, even now, working together with you has a positive outlook.
The right contents and the right tone for your Christmas seasonal greetings
1. Think outside the box rather than about yourself.
In various countries, the energy crisis and inflation have prompted different economic concerns than the ones we face here in German-speaking countries. Take the time to inform yourself about the situation, and above all about how things are viewed, in each country you write to. Your Christmas mail should show that you understand and empathise with the concerns facing those to whom you are writing.
2.Take political factors seriously.
There is no way of putting a positive gloss on this: the current crisis has amplified discordant undercurrents, also inside the EU. Anything you write to partners in other EU countries should therefore be sensitive to this. In some cases, the press in your country of destination may not be well disposed to the stance adopted by the government of your own country and this, even unconsciously and almost subliminally may cloud relations between companies. Inform yourself about those factors and couch your Christmas thoughts in a moderate and diplomatic manner. It makes sense in a context like this to express a clear understanding of the concerns of other countries, especially if your Christmas message is being sent to branch offices, subsidiaries or suppliers.
3. Business partners in Ukraine – what can be done?
Ukraine is a huge country and even though worries, fear and problems are omnipresent, as they most definitely are, the war itself is not directly visible from the front window of every house in that country. Furthermore, even at times of great solidarity while facing shared challenges, the population of any country is made up of individuals and they feel and perceive situations and crises in many different ways. Which is why you may find it very difficult, if you have business contacts with Ukrainian partners, to assess the circumstances of their daily lives correctly – in business terms as well as at an emotional level. To remedy this, you should seek, through personal dialogue, to obtain this background information first-hand and then to reflect that in an appropriate manner in your Christmas correspondence.
4. Individuality (as always) wins hands down
The size, the sector, the profile of the workforce, the sales markets and the situations they each face as a consequence of the pandemic, which has still not come to an end and their pre-existing goods procurement channels, all influence each company with which you maintain contact in very different ways. Even private fears, for example about workplace safety, have a role to play at an individual level. You should therefore make your Christmas message as personal as possible and necessary. Take a little more time about it and compose a few different texts, each addressing relevant topics and contexts – ideally one for each addressee or for each company, but at least one for each country of destination.
Why you absolutely should get your international Christmas greetings translated this year
It is especially important this year, and important for your business, that you demonstrate your willingness to listen and to understand, showing that you take the other party and their concerns or viewpoints seriously. You should also demonstrate this willingness by not simply taking the easiest but impersonal way, that of producing a one size fits all Christmas message in English for all the countries to which you are writing. If you make the effort to write in the language of your interlocutor, that will pay dividends in the form of a closer business relationship. What you do this year matters as much as how you do it, and if you walk that walk, you will be remembered for doing so much longer. You should therefore do your utmost to leave a lasting and favourable impression in the minds of your contacts by going that extra mile.
Having said that, a quantum of caution is advisable: misunderstandings, even at a most general level, are unpleasant and counter-productive. At times when everything seems so complicated or anxiety provoking, you may find your addressees to be more thin-skinned than they might otherwise be, so you cannot afford to make even the most minor of mistakes. Getting it wrong here could be disastrous and, in a worst-case scenario could mean the total loss of that business. You should therefore dispense with automatic translation using a free online program and instead use the services of real translators who, as native speakers, can help you to find the right words.
With your Christmas greetings, you may be charting the course for new avenues of business, even in the middle of a crisis and you may also be strengthening and deepening existing relationships. You may also be giving your image a human and approachable face, communicating that you are dependable business partners. This is an incalculably valuable opportunity and one that you should not miss out upon.
It of course almost goes without saying that we are delighted to be there for you. You may wish to have your German texts evaluated for their impact. You may be looking for a proof-reading or a correction service, or you may wish to ensure that your Christmas greetings make a good impression abroad through calling upon the services of a superlative professional translator.
18 October 2022 | Editorial Martina Schmid |