Being a Host or Guest in the United States
Every person who has ever been on holiday to the United States of America will confirm the following: Americans are very polite, friendly and hospitable. This view on the Americans is probably based on experiences in restaurants or other public locations, where the personnel is expected to be that way. Have you ever seen an American waitress not smiling when taking your order? But when you visit the United States for business, you will get to know the other side of the Americans. This article will describe what to expect from your host party when you visit America for business and what the host will expect from you.
Travelling unprepared to the United States for business may result in a big disappointment. The American culture is quite different from other cultures and may seem very aggressive. During business, they will try to reach their goals in the least amount of time possible, which is reflected in the way they negotiate. Don’t be surprised if your counterpart gives obvious hints to get the negotiations to speed up. American businesspeople are not interested in long-term relationships but are more likely to make deals in order to make short-term profits. The Americans are very individualistic and willing to take risks and therefore expect you to make quick decisions. Their informal and sometimes arrogant attitude can reach extreme heights and is noticeable in the way they speak. In contradiction to, for example the British, Americans often use very informal language during business and are not afraid to criticize others. This has to do with the fact that Americans are not seeking to save face. They try to live the American Dream and will do whatever it takes to reach their goals. When you are a guest in America, you will have to keep this in mind. Americans like to do their business fast and effective and practice it in an informal way.
A restaurant is a popular place to host a business meeting. These kinds of meetings can either occur during breakfast, lunch or dinner. When hosting the meeting, make sure to arrive at the location early to arrange the seating. In the United States the hosts sit opposite of each other flanked on the right by the most important guest. In order to mix the attendants, couples will not sit next to each other at a meal. The host expects his guests to arrive on time, assigns them their seats and pays the bill afterwards. Before starting to eat, the host will make a toast to welcome the guests. In contrast to business meetings at an office, business meetings in restaurants will take place in a less aggressive and more harmonious atmosphere. Avoid speaking in your own language at all times because Americans find this extremely rude. It is considered polite for guests to thank the host both in person and later again with a written note when the meeting is finished.
As you can see, the Americans are more than just the extremely friendly and polite people who serve your meal in a restaurant. Americans are very tough negotiators, so you should be prepared for that. A lack of preparation may result in your being blown away during negotiations.