Today, we would like to invite you on a cultural journey to the “land of unlimited possibilities”! This way, you can find out which things you should consider when you are communicating with your American contacts; no matter if they are colleagues, customers or business partners.
Also included: information on how to avoid problems concerning sexual harassment, tips for meetings and best practices for projects with Americans.
We would like to briefly outline the following six topics in today’s article:
1. When getting to know Americans, also in business, there are some special things to consider: the topic of “sexual harassment” is an important point among them. For example, ambiguous jokes and innuendos [which might seem okay for you] can quickly be perceived as sexual harassment. In general, all topics that can be controversial, e.g. also politics and religion, are unsuitable for small talk and should be avoided!
2. You will surely notice that Americans are often very helpful, curious, and open at first. However, it can be said that real close friendships, like for example in Germany, take a long time to win. So please do not confuse a first openness, which you may encounter when settling in on site or when traveling to the US for business trips, with personal familiarity. You might experience that this first openness ends quickly when you want to discuss more private topics.
3. If you are in a more intensive exchange with your colleagues, for example during different projects, the following applies: Direct instructions and instructive words to your team are rather unusual and are likely not very welcome. If you would like to give your colleagues hints or tips along the way, a more indirect way of communication is recommended [for example, you may formulate things more as a suggestion]. Otherwise, your colleagues may quickly feel patronized. In addition, finding compromises and taking all opinions into account is particularly important in the US.
Optimism and actionism
4. When evaluating new ideas from your colleagues, be aware that excessive skepticism and critical remarks are unlikely to be well understood. Optimism and actionism are keywords that describe the American mentality quite well. The principle of simply trying out new ideas or suggestions applies far more often than not even considering an opportunity.
5. If you should pass on information in form of a presentation, this should be done as briefly as possible. This also applies to writing e-mails. As a rule, many Americans appreciate compact information as well as charismatic and lively presentations with a clear focus on goals and concrete suggestions for putting things in action.
6. Most US businesses are very performance-oriented. This means, that Americans tend to work more than most Europeans, but still have fewer vacation days. Thus, as a manager, you will often be measured based on how much time you spend in the office. Be aware that the pressure to perform can sometimes be high!
If you take these points into account and approach all upcoming contacts with empathy and reflection, there is nothing to prevent a successful time with “your” Americans, regardless of all political and economic developments. Of course, these are only the first general tips that should be considered depending on the person and situation. The tips should be understood primarily as an orientation and not as binding instructions.
Find out more!
Our cross-cultural training on the USA offers you much deeper insights into the American culture and business customs.