The United States of America is in a pretty precarious place right now. The country is so heated and divided with its politics that they almost don't look that united
anymore. Nevertheless, if you plan on visiting or even relocating to the country yourself, you'd do well to follow their social norm examples. No matter how diverse the US is, the country still follows a specific set of rules that define what good and bad manners are. Things like arriving on time, holding the door for other people, and avoiding divisive topics can really affect how people see you here. And if you want to avoid becoming a social outcast, you'll want to follow these customs.
With how laid-back and happy-go-lucky Americans are, you'd think that they won't care about punctuality. But in truth, they're far from it. Whether it's at work
or a social gathering, you're always expected to be punctual. Arriving on time is the best example of good manners you can show when you're invited to something. Also, in this modern world, punctuality is required even when communicating too. When someone sends you an email or a message on social media, they expect you to respond asap. Heaven knows what might go through their heads if you really late!
Hold The Door for Other People
American social conventions dictate that you ought to hold the door for other people. Especially when they're senior citizens, with children, or people with disabilities. The most common example is when you're riding an elevator. When you see someone approaching the elevator you're on and it's about to close, press the open button to let them get inside. Others will regard you as rude and inconsiderate if you don't. And the only time that you don't hold the door is when the person outside the elevator tells you that they're heading in the opposite direction. This is why it's also important to ask where they're headed when there's still time.
Only Smoke in Designated Places
Americans can be pretty sensitive when it comes to smoking. They view it as a bad habit and a vice that anyone can easily fall addicted to. Not to mention a common cause for various illnesses that can lead to life-changing circumstances or even death. So when you want to go out for a smoke, only do so in designated areas. Another American social norm example regarding smoking is when you're smoking in a public space and the person near you coughs, you're expected to put your cigarette out. This means that your smoking has begun to disturb those around and it's good manners that you stop.
Don't Speak Loudly in Public Spaces
The Americans aren't like the Germans
or the French
. They're known for being lively and boisterous people. However, when conversing in public spaces, it's good manners to be mindful of your volume. Speaking loudly may be one of many examples of American norms but that doesn't mean you shouldn't take into account the people around you. Your volume should only be enough that the people you're with can hear you clearly and no one else. This is doubly important when you're on the phone while you're in a public space. American mobile networks
have more than enough coverage to ensure that the other person on the end of the line can hear you clearly without you having to shout.
Make Plans Before You Visit Someone's Home
Truth be told, American social norm examples differ when it comes to visiting other people's homes
. There are some, mostly within tight-knit suburban communities, where it's okay to drop by unannounced. Next-door neighborhoods typically go to each others' homes without calling first and it's become the norm for them. However, for the most part, it's good manners to make plans beforehand. Especially if you're planning to spend a long period of time in their abode. And in this day and age, a simple call or text is easy enough for when you plan to drop by someone else's home.
Ask Your Host Before Bringing A Plus One
Let's say you have been invited to someone else's home or, in most cases, to a social gathering. What if you want to bring someone else? Your significant other, maybe, or a friend you want to introduce to your host. Do you just bring them along without notifying the host first? Of course not! This is one of the worst examples of American norms there is! It often leads to an awkward situation, especially since there might not be enough space for your plus one. This is why it's always important to let your host know of your plus one before you bring them to their home or gathering.
Avoid Divisive Topics
No one can deny that the US has become a lot more divisive in the past few years. Bringing up political topics and other hard-pressed issues often leads to heated debates and anger-filled exchanges that can result in broken relationships. So what do you do? Avoid such topics altogether. This isn't to say that you should never express your political and social beliefs. The US gives you that right. However, there's always a time and place for that. First introductions, social gatherings, and workplaces aren't! It's best to avoid such topics when you're in these situations.
Be Careful When Talking About Money
Although there are different cultures in the United States, there's one thing that affects most in the country—money! This is the land of opportunities, after all, and more often than not, this alludes to money. But just like with politics, money has become somewhat of a taboo topic among many Americans. As such, American social norm examples dictate that you should never talk about money with people you're not particularly close to. It's rude to ask about their salary, wealth, their taxes
, and the like. It makes for awkward situations and most Americans prefer to not talk about money at all.
Always Leave a Tip
Here in the US, no matter where you are, you should always leave a tip! Whether you're in a Michelin-starred restaurant in New York
or a diner in Texas, most of the service staff expect you to leave a little something extra. It's not exactly a requirement or anything, but it has become one of the most important American social conventions. Many of those who work in the service industry rely on tips, no matter how big or small, for their living costs and other expenses. And this doesn't have anything to do with the job market
either. It's simply the norm to tip in the US.
Never Give Out Cash as A Gift
While on the subject of money, do note that there's a distinction between leaving a tip and giving out cash as a gift. They're not the same thing and doing the latter is a major faux pas in the United States. As already mentioned, money is a tumultuous subject in this country. Not only should you not talk about willy nilly, but you also shouldn't use it as a gift. Perhaps, if you're giving it to kids, it's alright, but to fellow adults? They'll see it as condescending and insulting. It's even more offensive if the recipient is someone you know is of a lower financial class than you.
Remembering American social norm examples, such as their etiquette and customs, are vital if you want to start a new life in the US. It's your only way to ensure that you don't offend anyone and even make a couple of new friends!