Americans value straight talking and getting to the point above diplomacy.
Respect is earned through conspicuous achievement rather than through age or background.
Self-deprecation is often misunderstood by Americans as a sign of weakness. Sell your plus points.
Humour is frequently used in business situations but is unlikely to be appreciated when matters become very tense.
Remember that time is money in the States – wasting people’s time through vagueness is lack of a sense of purpose which will not produce good results.
Compromise is often sought – at the brink. This can often equate to the end of a quarter or financial year.
Do not be offended by seemingly overly personal questions.
Dress code in the States is very variable – check on the appropriate mode before departure.
Short-termism is endemic. Structure any proposals to emphasise quick wins rather than long-term objectives (although these should also be included.)
You may encounter an American is best view to doing things – be prepared to counter this with quantitative and qualitative counter-arguments.
Many Americans never leave the States. Be prepared for a parochially American view of the world.
Enthusiasm is endemic in business. Join in. Do not exhibit a jaundiced, old world approach as this will be interpreted as defeatist.
New is good. Change is ever present in American corporate life and therefore so is the easy acceptance of new ideas, new models etc.
Gift giving is unusual in the States and many companies have policies to restrict or forbid the acceptance of presents.
Americans tend to work longer hours and take fewer days of vacation than their European counterparts.
Try to be punctual for meetings – if you are late apologise.
Despite the seeming lack of hierarchy within an American organisation, the boss is the boss and is expected to make decisions and is held accountable for those decisions.
Americans often socialise with work colleagues outside the office – and this often includes the family.
Titles are an unreliable guide to relative importance within an organisation due to their proliferation.
Business is a serious thing in the States and it is important that you are seen to be serious in your intent and commitment.
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: