Top 10 Words and Phrases Filipinos Should Avoid When Communicating with American Clients

Navigating cross-cultural communication can be challenging, especially when you’re working with clients from different countries. This is particularly true for Filipinos who often interact with American clients in various industries such as customer support, outsourcing, and virtual assistance. Certain words or phrases that may seem polite or normal in the Philippines can puzzle or even offend American clients. To help bridge this communication gap, we have compiled a list of the top 10 words or phrases that Filipinos should avoid using in their interactions with American clients.

Top 10 Words and Phrases to Avoid:

  1. Kindly, Sir/Madam – While it may sound polite in the Filipino context, using “kindly” or addressing someone as “sir” or “madam” can come across as overly formal or insincere in American culture. Instead, opt for a more casual and genuine tone, such as “please” or “could you.”
  2. Do the needful – This phrase, although widely used in some Asian countries, is not commonly used in the United States. Instead, you can use phrases like “please take care of this” or “please handle this as needed.”
  3. For a while – Instead of asking someone to “wait for a while,” consider using “please hold on” or “give me a moment” when asking an American client to wait.
  4. Revert – In the Philippines, “revert” is often used to mean “respond” or “reply,” but in the United States, it means to “return to a previous state.” To avoid confusion, use “respond” or “get back to you” instead.
  5. Today itself – This phrase is not commonly used in American English and can be confusing. Instead, opt for “today” or “by the end of the day” to convey urgency.

  1. Kindly expedite – This phrase might sound polite, but it can come across as overly formal or demanding. Instead, use “please prioritize” or “could you please speed up the process?”
  2. Same same – This phrase, borrowed from neighboring countries, is not familiar to most Americans. Rather than saying “same same,” use “similar” or “the same.”
  3. Sir/Ma’am for every sentence – While addressing someone with “sir” or “ma’am” might show respect in the Philippines, using it excessively in conversation with American clients may sound overly deferential or insincere. It is generally acceptable to address them by their first name or to use “sir” or “ma’am” sparingly.
  4. Madam Boss – Referring to a female superior as “Madam Boss” may sound respectful in the Philippines, but it is not common in American culture. Instead, address them by their first name or use a more gender-neutral term like “manager” or “supervisor.”
  5. Long time no see – Although this phrase is understood in the United States, it is informal and may not be suitable for professional conversations. Instead, consider saying “it’s been a while since we last spoke” or “it’s been some time since our last meeting.”

Conclusion: Effective communication is vital in any professional relationship, and understanding cultural differences can help prevent misunderstandings and foster stronger connections. By avoiding these 10 words and phrases, Filipinos can enhance their communication with American clients and colleagues, paving the way for successful cross-cultural collaborations.

Dennis Yu
Dennis Yu
Dennis Yu is co-author of the #1 best-selling book on Amazon in social media, The Definitive Guide to TikTok Ads.  He has spent a billion dollars on Facebook ads across his agencies and agencies he advises. Mr. Yu is the "million jobs" guy-- on a mission to create one million jobs via hands-on social media training, partnering with universities and professional organizations.You can find him quoted in major publications and on television such as CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NPR, and LA Times. Clients have included Nike, Red Bull, the Golden State Warriors, Ashley Furniture, Quiznos-- down to local service businesses like real estate agents and dentists. He's spoken at over 750 conferences in 20 countries, having flown over 6 million miles in the last 30 years to train up young adults and business owners. He speaks for free as long as the organization believes in the job-creation mission and covers business class travel.You can find him hiking tall mountains, eating chicken wings, and taking Kaqun oxygen baths-- likely in a city near you.