You’ll make a good impression in the USA by appearing confident, open, friendly and direct. A firm handshake, sustained eye contact, a clear expression of opinions and an alert posture will show that you’re interested and capable, although ultimately, you will be judged on the results you deliver.
The style of communication in the United States tends to be very explicit. Value is placed on being clear, direct, and ‘to the point’ regarding verbal and written communication. It is not necessary to always follow certain protocols. The ideas of an individual are valued, regardless of whether that individual has seniority in the group.
Because Americans are so time-conscious, their communication style may seem abrupt at first, getting down to business after minimal small talk, or visibly demonstrating impatience if you have gone on too long. Do not be intimidated by this, but do prepare for it.
People are judged on results and efforts are taken to avoid delays. The well-known phrase, ‘time is money’, sums up the American work ethic, and great efforts are taken to save time (and therefore money).
Here are some key cultural business tips to help you work effectively with the Americans:
1. Demonstrate a can-do, problem-solving attitude and a willingness to innovate and take calculated risks.
2. Be explicit and straightforward in your communication style, while avoiding direct criticism or open conflict.
3. Focus on being decisive and getting things done quickly. Take the approach that time is money, and a missed opportunity is wasteful.
4. Take individual accountability for results; while teamwork has increased in importance, the individual is still the primary focus.
5. Expect to encounter an informal business culture with a relatively flat organizational structure. Most people in an American workplace will be on first-name terms.
6. Make a good impression through a simple, but factual and persuasive, presentation. Selling is important, although delivering results is what ultimately matters.
7. Be punctual to meetings, stick to the agenda, and expect the outcome to be action items that can be implemented quickly.
8. Try to get to the main point in a discussion quickly; don’t feel you need to provide all the contextual background at once. Questions are likely once the main point has been identified.