Cultural tips for doing business in the USA in 2022
In the USA, you will often find that business culture is typically less hierarchical and much more informal in comparison to other countries, which reflects on the American belief in equality. It is very common for American employees to exhibit a relaxed approach to dress and communication, have regular and easy access to their superiors, such as managers and directors, and you’ll find that with most businesses in America, employees often address one another by first name. However, although non-Americans may perceive the culture of the USA to be casual and relaxed, US work culture owns the phrase ‘time is money’. The American dream is 100% built on hard work, focus and a drive to get things done.
Greetings in USA Business Culture
The American style of communication is direct and straight to the point. If you’re meeting someone in person, a simple handshake and a “Hello” will do just fine, and don’t forget to look them in the eyes. They don’t mind being called by their first name, but if you are unsure, you can always ask how they want to be addressed.
Despite Americans preferring straight talk, you should be more subtle giving criticism to a senior person. In a culture driven by success and ambition, critiquing your boss can be seen as a power play or an attempt to undermine them. Try to avoid direct confrontation if you disagree and deal with your objection in private on a one-to-one basis.
Time Management and Meetings in USA Business Culture
Most formal business meetings in America will follow an agenda quite closely, so it’s very important to make a note that punctuality is of the essence in the USA. Being somewhere on time, jumping quickly into work, and sticking to the plan is common practice in the United States. Time is a valuable commodity, and it can be considered rude to be late.
In addition to this, most meetings in the USA will start with an informal catch up as meeting participants begin to settle down. This usually only lasts for a few brief moments before transitioning to business discussion. Americans are rather uncomfortable with silence, so this is usually avoided in business meetings. The use of humour is appreciated and well received, since it facilitates openness in business relations. All those attending will be expected to contribute and play an active role in meeting conversations and a good leader (the individual hosting the meeting) will ensure that all are heard.
Business Cards in USA Business Culture
There is no specific protocol for the exchange of business cards when conducting business in America. This is a very different approach to conducting business in Asia, for example (check out our blogs on cultural business tips for Singapore and Japan here). In America, exchange of business cards can be done either during introductions, at the beginning of the meeting or when leaving. Most business people now specify their position and contact details in the signature of their email messages, so business cards tend to be less and less needed. Another medium of communication is increasingly used: LinkedIn. It is replacing business cards as the go-to way to meet contacts and pass on details.
Wherever your business takes you in the USA, always have in your mind that transparency, direct communication and a can-do attitude are valued above all else.
If you are ready to start conducting business in America and want to learn more about the culture, here at Dialogue we can help you to achieve just that. We offer a range of flexible and varied cultural training programmes that will boost your self-confidence in a new business environment.