Business Communication The United States of America.
Prior appointments are necessary. People in the United States write the month first, then the day, then the year (i. e., December 5, 2006 is written 12/5/06). Generally, the working week is Monday through Friday, 8:30 or 9:00 to 17:00 or 18:00. Many people, however, work overtime.
Punctuality is very important for business occasions. In many U. S. cities, traffic can cause considerable delays, so be sure to allow enough driving time for your appointment. If you know that you will be late, call to let your contact know.
If you are invited for a meal, you should arrive promptly. When invited to a cocktail party, it’s usually permissible to arrive a few minutes late. On these occasions, you do not need to call ahead, even if you are 30 minutes late.
This culture stresses individual initiative and achievement. Moreover, Americans can be competitive in both work and leisure. The concept “time is money” is taken seriously in U.S. business culture. Businesspeople are used to making up their minds quickly and decisively. They value information that is straightforward and to the point. In the U. S. A., money is a key priority and an issue that will be used to win most arguments. Status, protocol, and national honour play a smaller role. Similarly, “saving face” and other social niceties and formalities that are vitally important to other cultures are not as important in the United States.
American businesspeople are opportunistic and willing to take chances. Opportunism and risk taking often result in Americans going for the biggest possible slice of the business, 100% if possible. Americans tend to dislike periods of silence during negotiations and in conversations, in general. They may continue to speak simply to avoid silence. In general, people in the U.S. will not hesitate to answer “no”. Businesspeople are direct and will not hesitate to disagree with you. This communication style often causes embarrassment to business travellers who are unaccustomed to dealing with Americans or direct communication in general. Persistence is another characteristic you will frequently encounter in American businesspeople; there is a prevailing belief that there is always a solution. Moreover, they will explore all options when negotiations are at an impasse. Anxiety often develops over deadlines and results. The work ethic is so strong, that it appears that Americans’ lives revolve around work. Consistency is common among American businesspeople: when they agree to a deal, they rarely change their minds. Americans tend to be future oriented. Therefore, innovation often takes precedence over tradition. The United States tends to be an ethnocentric culture, so it is closed to a lot of “outside” information. Thinking tends to be analytical, concepts are abstracted quickly, and the “universal” rule is preferred. There are established rules for almost everything, and experts are relied upon at all levels. Be aware that the United States is the most litigious society in the world. There are lawyers who specialize in practically every industry and segment of society.
In a meeting, the participants will proceed with business usually after some brief, preliminary “small talk” about topics unrelated to the business at hand. This is generally practised to ease tensions and create a comfortable environment before entering into business matters. Topics may range from sports, weather, or other smaller business topics. Personal matters should not be discussed during this time, or any time in the negotiation. Usually, business is conducted at an extremely fast pace. Regardless of the negotiator, company policy is always followed. Though they are risk-takers, American businesspeople will also have a financial plan which must be followed. Americans regard negotiating as problem-solving through “give and take” based on respective strengths. Therefore, they will often emphasize their financial strength and/or position of power.
In negotiations, points are made by the accumulation of objective facts. This evidence is sometimes biased by faith in the ideologies of democracy, capitalism and consumerism. The subjective feelings of the participants are not as much of a factor. Therefore, they will not spend much time seeking consensus.
Often, American businesspeople try to extract an oral agreement at the first meeting. However, the U.S. salespeople sometimes bring final contracts to first meetings with prospective clients. In large firms, contracts under $10,000 can often be approved by one middle manager in a single meeting.
Your business card won’t be refused, but you may not always receive one in return. In the U.S. the rituals involved in exchanging business cards are sometimes not observed as closely as in other cultures. In many cases, business cards are not exchanged unless you want to contact the person later.
Much emphasis is placed, in theory, on the equality of individuals in the United States. Personal equality is guaranteed by law. Nonetheless, ethnic and social bias does exist. Women are still striving for equality in pay and positions of authority. In the structure of the workplace, there is often inequality on employees’ roles. Compared with many countries, the United States is moving forward rapidly and successfully with its unique diversity. Expect to work with people of different ethnic backgrounds, religions and cultures in the workplace at all levels and positions. Treat everyone with respect and dignity to ensure a successful trip.
Many people in the U.S. have a limited knowledge of cultures beyond their own country and its own diverse subcultures. Some Americans may assume that their way is the “correct” or only way. Business culture can vary greatly from company to company because of America’s diversity. Learn as much about the business culture of your foreign associates before meeting with them through their website, marketing materials and business literature.
Ex. 1. Find the synonyms to the words from list A in list B.
A: to stress, to make up one’s mind, slice, persistence, consistency, precedence, accumulation, to extract, ornament, outfit, flair, arrogance.
B: to take out, to decide, priority, collection, adornment, style, clothes, haughtiness, coherence, perseverance, portion, to emphasize.
Ex. 2. Match the qualities with their definitions.
a) maintains one’s stance firmly in spite of opposition or difficulty. b) behaves rationally. c) practices taking advantage of any opportunity to achieve an end usually with little or no regard for moral principles. d) feels confident about the future. e) believes in superiority of one’s own ethnic group. f) shows a lot of enthusiasm and energy. g) is overly convinced of one’s own superiority.
Ex. 3. Questions for discussion.
1) What does the concept “time is money” mean?
2) What are the traits of American businesspeople?
3) Expand on the communication style of businesspeople.
4) What is the work ethic?
5) What kind of society is the United States?
6) What is practised in meetings to ease tensions before entering into business matters?
7) At what pace is business conducted?
8) What are the rituals involved in exchanging business cards?
9) What are the characteristics of American business culture?
10) Prove that the United States tends to be an ethnocentric culture.
11) Would you like to make business with the Americans or not? Give your reasons.