"Let’s Talk at 6 on 3/4"

I am dismayed to see the communications difficulties when growth companies start to do business internationally, then fail to be specific about dates and times. How many times have you seen an email subject like “Let’s talk at 6 on 3/4” exchanged between the New York and London locations, and wondered: 6am or 6pm? Whose timezone? March 4th or April 3rd?

This happens even when many of the employees are worldly themselves, but have fallen into the shortcuts for their countries. Too few Americans seem to know, for example, that everyone else in the world writes day/month, rather than month/day, or uses the international date format of year-month-day. The problems often get ironed out when one or the other sends along an Outlook or Google calendar invitation, so long as both parties have their location and time zone settings set properly.

Just the same there is often misunderstanding while setting up the meeting. It would be so easy to minimize this problem if everyone followed three simple rules:

  1. Use am or pm with a time (6am or 6pm), or write in 24-hour clock format (6:00 or 18:00)

  2. Specify which time zone

  3. Agree to use international date format (year-month-day) or spell out the month name (Mar 4).

Happy meeting. I will withhold my rant about the superiority of the metric system for another time and place.