When asked to describe meetings in the USA, a word which Americans often use is aggressive. This confrontational approach, (where openly and directly debating all the relevant issues even at the expense of personal relationships is valued) is very alien to those cultures which always put diplomacy and harmony at the heart of their approach to meetings.
Of course, many cultures mistakenly see this direct approach between colleagues as a sign of bitter, personal animosity – which it always invariably is not. It is endemic in the American approach to communication in meetings and is seen as a positive step towards addressing whatever the vital and pressing issues might be. Time pressured, ambitious American business executives do not have time for the vagueness, diplomacy and lack of focus which they perceive as typifying meeting situations in such diverse cultures as the UK and Japan.
Meetings often include formal presentations by one or more of the participants and these presentations are a vital element in the demonstration of professional competence. Thus, presentations should not only be relevant and well researched but also delivered in a positive, enthusiastic and committed manner. The meeting and especially one in which a presentation has to be made, is seen as an opportunity to impress – important if personal success is to be achieved.
Meetings are increasingly virtual with one or more participants joining from a completely separate location by either conference call or video link. These meetings can often prove less successful than face-to-face meetings due to communication difficulties (especially if some participants are non-native English speakers) and it is possible that the right skill-sets are not always in place to make the most of these difficult meeting types.
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: