Greetings: People introduce themselves by name and with a firm handshake to everyone present. Business culture in the US is generally mindful of the separation between professional and private life. While pleasantries and a brief exchange asking how someone is doing are common, conversation quickly moves to business. Similarly, Americans are very conscious about personal space and tend to give more than in European or Latin countries. Close-talking is generally uncomfortable in American professional settings.
Schedules: Whether on phone calls, to meals or dinner, promptness is expected. Many people in the US consider being on time as actually being late in business settings, so be sure to arrive early. That said, expect a straggler or two. Business dinners generally follow the conclusion of the workday and tend to start as late as 19:00.
Meetings: In most business settings, Americans schedule meeting times and stick to them. Conversation is usually kept on-topic and sticks to business, with light conversation before or after a meeting wraps. While it varies by industry, Americans tend to dress conservatively, although many workplaces in the US have adopted business casual dress policies.
Meals: Americans are open to scheduling and doing business at any meal, including breakfast. But people watch the clock, including during business lunches, which are typically kept to one-hour’s time. Don’t be put off by your host checking his or her watch at regular intervals, but answering calls or checking phones during a meal is impolite. Wait until everyone is served before eating. Americans are known to be big eaters, so feel free to take seconds if offered. Keep in mind that smoking is unpopular indoors the US, not to mention illegal in most settings where a business meal would take place. To be safe (and avoid potential judgment) wait until the meal has concluded to smoke outside. Follow the host’s lead when it comes to ordering alcohol. (Getty)