Communication styles in business in the States are determined by many of the approaches to business we have already described above.
The desire to debate issues directly and openly leads Americans to be seen by some cultures as aggressive and even rude. Coded speech and verbosity is often seen as time wasting and in time pressured corporate USA that is a crime.
Thus, when an impasse is reached in meeting situations the reaction is often to address it directly and with feeling. This direct, robust debate can often be viewed by more harmony-seeking cultures as signalling the breakdown of meaningful discussions and as the signal to try to abandon the interaction – whereas in the States it is seen positively and as a sign of definite progress.
Paradoxically, on first introductions American can seem very friendly, polite and solicitous of your well being which seems to be at odds with the verbal behaviour exhibited half an hour later in the meeting. This overt friendliness (‘Have nice day!’, ‘Hi, how are you doing?’ etc.) should be taken for what it is – part of the protocol of the language and not as an attempt at establishing a life-long friendship.
Although coded speech and over-verbosity are frowned upon, the latest management speak is often to the fore in business dealings which can make Americans sound extremely jargonistic – almost to the point of obscuring the real message.
Americans are much more open in conversation about private affairs than many European cultures and the converse of this is that Americans will often, quite naively, ask very personal questions at an early stage in a relationship which may be perceived by some people as intrusive.
Technology is increasingly relied on and email is the normal methodology of communication. Email messages are expected to be short and to the point – often omitting both the greeting line and the closing line. Do not misinterpret this short form communication as rudeness or annoyance – it’s just viewed as a quick and efficient approach.
Written and Produced by Keith Warburton
This country profile has been produced to give a short overview of some of the key concepts to bear in mind when doing business with contacts in the USA. It is intended to be an aid to business people who have commercial dealings with counterparties in the country but should not be seen as an exhaustive guide to this topic or as a substitute for more substantial research should there be a need.
With this in mind, we have covered the areas which are key to a better understanding of the cultural mindset underpinning business dealings in the USA and which are, quite often, extremely different from the approach and thought processes associated with business in other parts of the world.
Therefore this briefing note is broken into short, bite-sized sections on the following topics: