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Cultural Differences When Working in The USA


Did you know that the USA is one of our most in-demand countries in terms of cross-cultural training?

We support a diverse spectrum of business professionals from across the globe who work with Americans by helping them understand the culture, and specifically the business culture.

Having been in the cross-cultural training field now for 15 years, we have heard a lot of stories around cultural differences, especially from people who have lived or worked in the USA.

So, what better way to explore some facets of American business culture than through some of these personal insights?

Top 10 Cultural Differences for Foreigners in America

Based on anecdotal evidence and training surveys, here’s what we in the Commisceo office feel are the 10 most common cultural differences foreigners talk about when doing business in the USA.

1. Business First

Relationships are built through doing business, not the other way around. Americans don’t prioritise personal relationships as much as some other cultures do. Business comes first.


2. Say What You Think

In American culture, clarity, transparency and directness are all important in communication, as is the value placed on an individual’s opinions. People say what they think and feel and expect others to do the same.


3. Do What You Say

In a business setting, trust is built by doing what you say you will. If you promise to deliver something on time, deliver it on time or you risk losing trust in your abilities.


4. Results Matter

US business culture is results-driven. Success comes down to results. Consequently, Americans can prioritise results above anything else and can be blinded by them in search of success.


5. Modesty Gets You Nowhere

US culture is individualistic. People talk highly of themselves and promote themselves. Showing reserve, modesty and restraint can work against you.

6. Short-terms Wins

The US is a short-term orientated culture. Hitting this year’s targets will always be more important than what will happen in 3, 5 or 10 years' time. Americans want quick wins.

7. Die By The Sword

People are held accountable for their decisions and actions. When you make a wrong decision or choice, you are expected to accept personal responsibility and deal with any fallout.


8. Risk is Healthy

American culture likes risk and is comfortable with uncertainty. In comparison to some other cultures, US business culture can appear very gung-ho!


9. Work, Work, Work

Americans work long hours and have fewer holidays than in other parts of the world. Working long is seen as working hard.


10. Smile :)

The smile is much more than a smile. It masks a thousand feelings and delivers a thousand messages depending on the context.

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Want to discover more about American business culture?

Sign-up to our online USA cultural awareness course!



Photo by Monika Kozub on Unsplash

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