Foreign expats who are doing business in the United States may notice a number of differences between U.S. business culture and the culture of their country of origin. This is true even for many European, Australian, or Canadian expatriates. Understanding the American way of doing business will make it easier to fit in and remain productive. Below are some things to bear in mind.
American Culture Tends To Be Direct And Frank
In the United States,great value is placed on talking straight. This means saying exactly what you feel without beating around the bush or using euphemisms or flowery language. When engaging in conversation with Americans you will be expected to make your point, quickly. This is especially true for big cities like New York. Americans also dislike long names and tend to shorten them.
Merit Is Extremely Important In American Society
In many countries throughout the world, who you know is more important than what you know. In American society the opposite is true. While having connections certainly helps, you are expected to get results and have the track record to prove you can get them.
Americans Are Exceptionally Individualistic
Unlike many nations in the Far East, American culture emphasizes individualism. This means that individuals are not expected to be subservient to the group, and great value is placed on autonomy. Americans encourage individuals to think for themselves and chart their own paths to success.
Silence Will Make Many Americans Uncomfortable
To a large extent, Americans are extroverted. They don’t find silence comforting in the same manner as the Japanese or Scandinavians. When engaging with Americans in conversation it is important to affirm that you understand what is being said, otherwise they make think you don’t agree with them or you don’t understand them. Introverts typically have a harder time in American society than extroverts. While individualism is encouraged you’re also expected to socialize and make your feelings known.
Americans Tend To Work Longer Hours Than Europeans But Less Than Asians
Generally, Americans work more than Europeans, and take less vacation time. However, they work fewer hours than Asians and at a slower pace. European expats who come to the U.S. may find it hard to adjust to this, while Asians, particular those from Japan, may find that Americans work as a snail’s pace compared to what they are used to.
Americans Tend To Make Decisions As Individuals Rather Than As Groups
In many countries, particularly those in Europe and Asia, decisions within a company are made by consensus, with the participation of employees as well as managers and executives. In the United States, while debate and discussion may be conducted as a group, ultimately decision making will typically come down to a single individual. In the U.S. it is common for a boss to make a decision without even bothering the consult with anyone else.
These are the basics on American business etiquette. While there are exceptions to these rules in different regions and organizations within the U.S., as a general rule of thumb this is what you should expect when working in the U.S. as a foreign expat. For more business tips, watch this space!