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The Basics of American Business Culture and Etiquette

April 11, 2022
The United States of America is home to big business. From the industrial revolution to today, working has become a way of life in this country. It's all about the hustle and bustle and if you want to reach the top, you'd do well to either work in the US or work with them. And whether you go for one or the other, it doesn't change the fact that you still have to understand American business culture and etiquette to get ahead. Things like arriving on time, speaking in English, and learning sports terms are important if you want to seal that deal and get that check!

The Basics of American Business Culture and Etiquette


Always Be Punctual

If there's one thing Americans hate so much, it's people who arrive late. Whether it's in a social gathering or at work, everyone is expected to be punctual. Most superiors don't just expect you to arrive on time, but to arrive prepared as well. In American business culture, punctuality doesn't just allude to what time you get to the office or to the meeting. It also includes the progress of your workflow. If you're working on a project and there's a set timetable, you're expected to hit each and every deadline no matter what.


Dress Conservatively on First Meetings

Let's say you were looking for work and you were invited for an interview in a tech startup. You dress up in a tailored suit but when you arrive at their offices, you see that the employees are just in t-shirts and jeans. Should you have dressed up for this interview? Of course! During first introductions, whether with potential clients or a company you applied to, always look your best. If in the said situation, you went ahead and dressed the way their employees do, you won't leave a good impression at all. And because of that, you didn't get the job you wanted.

The Basics of American Business Culture and Etiquette



Refrain From Greeting with Physical Contact

The Americans aren't like the French or the Italians when it comes to greetings. You won't expect US businessmen to kiss you on both cheeks as a form of hello. In fact, they prefer as little physical contact as possible. Most of the time, a firm handshake will do. Some would even accept just a friendly smile and a warm greeting too. And especially for women, men greeting with little to no physical contact is an absolute must. With the advent of the #MeToo movement, you won't want to risk getting accused of assault because of misplaced hands, unnecessary hugs, and the like.


Speak in English

One of the best American business etiquette tips you can follow is to learn to speak and understand English. Although the United States is a melting pot of a country, English remains its dominant language. And in its corporate world, the more you're fluent in English, the better. Even if you have an accent, as long as your American colleagues and clients can understand you, you're fine. By speaking the same language, work can go smoother and quicker. And if there's one thing you ought to know about how Americans work, it's that they prefer to accomplish everything as soon as possible.

The Basics of American Business Culture and Etiquette



Be Direct and Straightforward

Speaking of working as quickly as possible, Americans also prefer that you speak in a straightforward manner and direct to the point. Don't skirt around your ideas. Give it to them straight, even if you think that they may be offended by what you have to say. American work culture follows the concept of 'time is money,' which means that every second counts. What they hate the most is beating around the bush and long periods of silence. When you're in the middle of negotiating, go straight to your point as best you can!


Learn Sports Terms When Talking About Business

'Touch base,' 'Game plan,' and 'Ball park figures.' These are just some of the common phrases you'll likely hear often in a meeting in the US. They're also part of what makes the American business communication style so unique. Over the years, the US corporate world has adopted all sorts of sports terms into their vernacular. And when you're doing business in the United States, you'll have to learn about them. They don't exactly expect you to speak in the same way, however, they do expect that you already know what these sports terms mean within business settings.

The Basics of American Business Culture and Etiquette



You Can Refuse Food & Drink

In most other countries, such as Greece or Italy, for instance, refusing food is seen as bad manners. Here in the US, on the other hand, not only are you allowed to refuse what you're offered, but at times, the host won't even care at all. For example, if you were invited to a business meeting where there's food and drink, American business culture and etiquette dictate that you don't have to feel compelled to eat or drink anything. They're there as refreshments it's up to you if you want them or not. If you do decide to eat or drink, make sure you do so clearly and not make a mess of yourself in front of your clients and colleagues.


Keep Business Cards Handy

Another business custom that's not required in the US is giving out business cards. Though it's a common practice, it's not exactly part of American business etiquette. It's only when you want further contact with your clients and colleagues will you hand out your business card. You'll rarely even see others asking you for it. It's up to you to gauge whether you should hand it out to the person you're talking to or not. And in the case that someone does ask for your contact details, keeping a business card handy will be extremely helpful!

The Basics of American Business Culture and Etiquette


As long as you understand and follow American business culture and etiquette, you can work with Americans or in the United States with no problem at all. And in the land of opportunities, you never know where a job well done can lead you!




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Destinations

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