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U.S.

culture overview

American Culture
Key Concepts and Values

Individualism- American culture


emphasizes individual initiative and
personal achievement. Independence and
self-reliance are highly valued and also
extends to the workplace where business is
frequently carried out autonomously.
Consequently, ones position in US society
is determined by ones own achievements
as oppose to status or age.

American Culture
Key Concepts and Values continue

Low context culture- those cultures described as low


context tend to communicate meaning and information
explicitly through words.
Americans are task centered and thus the primary
purpose of communication is to exchange information,
facts, and opinions. In the US, conflict is dealt with
directly and openly, and for this reason, Americans will
not hesitate to say no or criticize others in public. This
direct style of speech is often interpreted by foreign
visitors as rude and may cause embarrassment to
business people who are unaccustomed to such explicit
communication. However, it is important to remember
that in a business context it bears no relation to
personal feelings and should not be taken as such.

American Culture
Key Concepts and Values continue

Egalitarianism- An important element of American culture is


the concept of equality.
Despite the many differences within American society, there is
a collective understanding of the notion of equality that
underlines many social relationships in the US. Americans
believe in having equal rights, equal social obligations, and
equal opportunities based on the concept of individual merit.
Consequently, there is a general lack of deference in the US to
people of greater wealth, age, higher social status or authority.
This is evident in the way in which titles are seldom used in
business environments and how Americans call each other by
their first names almost immediately. Egalitarianism also
contributes to the system of merit frequently referred to as the
American Dream, whereby hard work deserves success and
financial prosperity.

Doing Business in the US


US Business Part 1 - Working in the US (Predeparture)

a)

Working practices in the US


In the US, punctuality is an essential part
of business etiquette and as such,
scheduled appointments or meetings must
be attended on time. Americans perceive
lateness as a sign of disrespect. Therefore,
in situations where you know you will be
late, a call should be made to inform your
American colleagues of your delay.

Working practices in the US


b) Deadlines are strictly adhered to in
American business culture. Americans place
great emphasis on getting the best results in
the quickest time. Your American counterparts
may appear to be hasty in their decisionmaking. This, however, is due to the fact that
the concept time is money is taken
extremely seriously in the US.

Working practices in the US

Generally speaking, in the United States the


working week consists of Monday to Friday,
9-5pm. However, due to the strong
American work ethic the majority of
Americans work long hours and overtime is
common practice. It is also customary to
take as few as ten days holiday per year.

Part 2-Doing business in the US

a)

Business practices in the US


It is customary to begin and end business
meetings with a brief but firm handshake.
Maintaining direct eye contact during this
initial greeting and whenever in
conversation is also essential, as it
demonstrates to your American colleagues
your interest and sincerity.

US business etiquette
(Do's and Don'ts)
DO address your American business colleagues
with a title, such as , Ms, Mr, or Mrs, and
their last name when meeting someone for the
first time. You may find that, your American
counterparts will insist on using first names almost
immediately; this is not a sign of familiarity but
simply reflects the casual business style of
Americans and their emphasis on equality.
DO say please and thank you to everyone for
even the smallest kindness. Politeness is highly
valued in the United States and Americans will
expect you to be as polite as they are.

US business etiquette
(Do's and Don'ts)

DO be prepared to partake in preliminary small talk


with your American counterparts at the beginning of a
business meeting. This will often include topics such
as sport or the weather and is seen as a way to lessen
apprehension and create a comfortable environment
before entering into business affairs.
DONT expect all companies to be the same. Business
culture in the US differs from company to company on
many levels, including industry, region and business
structure. It is advised to research as much as
possible about the individual business culture of your
American associates before meeting with them.

US business etiquette
(Do's and Don'ts)
DONT make any other form of physical
contact such as hugging when greeting your
American counterpart for the first time.
Americans respect their privacy and
personal space.
DONT be offended or surprised if your
American colleagues cannot accept a gift.
Gift giving is often discouraged or limited by
many US companies and therefore most
employees are unable to accept them.

What are some American


taboos?

Do not ask personal income, assets etc private information. Do not ask
women marital status, age, and price of clothes etc private matter.
Do not smoke in front of the others without consent.
How Americans are doing financially might be evident, given the
standard of living and obvious possessions. However, in polite society,
it is firmly taboo to ask someone how much money he has or makes.
Do not use or ask for toothpicks at a restaurant or at a guest home.
Americans love their pretty teeth, they usually use dental floss, but
rarely use the toothpick.It is strictly taboo to eat horses in the United
States. Also taboo are cats and dogs.
Do not start to eat until the hostess starts or ask to start a meal. Do not
make chewing sound when dinning. Do not take food for others. Do not
smoke at the dinning table. Do not persuade others to drink.
Do not forget to greet children. Americans treat children equal to adults

America Dos
Do take off hat, coat and sunglasses indoor
Do make a tight grip when shaking hands,
and have eye contact. Americans consider it
as rude and arrogant when shaking hands
without looking at each.
Do say hello to strangers. Turn your eyes
away or pretend not see others is
considered disdaining others.
Do wait in front of the restaurant door for
the waiter to lead you to the table.

Be attention to
Be attention to what you say while you
work
Non-discrimination
No sexual harassment

American Holidays
New Year Day (January 1st)
Valentines Day (February 14th)
Saint Patricks Day (March 17th)
Easter Day or Easter Sunday
Memorial Day (The last Monday of May)
Independence Day (July 4th)
Labor Day (The first Monday of September)
Halloween (October 31st)
Thanksgiving (The 4th Thursday of November)
Christmas (December 25th)

Different Time Zones


There are different time zones.
Eastern Standard Time (EST)
Central Standard Time (CST)
Mountain Standard Time (MT)
Pacific Standard Time (PST)
There are 3 hours difference between
the
east and the west.

American Time Zones Map

Transportation in Bay Area


VTA (Light rail)
Buses (San Jose city tour)
Caltrains (San Jose San Francisco)
Bart (Fremont San Francisco)
Rental car (Require International Driving
License)

Socialization
There are various parties in America.
Formal dinner party: The host prepares
everything.
Casual get-together: The host prepares
some food and the guests can bring some
too.
Potluck dinner/lunch/Picnic: All the
invited
guests bring one dish.