How To Deal With Americans

Europe According to Americans [Via]

Europe According to Americans [Via]

Uncommon Courtesy is based in America, and if you couldn’t tell already, most of our etiquette focus has been on the way the Western developed world does things. However, in our ongoing attempt to educate ourselves about the world, we decided to take a look at some “international” etiquette tips for dealing with Americans.

From Etiquette by Vijaya Kumar

American business people are considered very open and friendly. Foreigners however find this friendliness short-lived.

Business people from other cultures are put off by the abruptness of Americans, for whom time is money.

Americans, being friendly, tend to jump onto first-name terms very quickly, which is wrong.

From Passport USA: Your Pocket Guide to American Business, Culture & Etiquette by Dean W. Engel

Some American women have adopted the practice of using both their family name and the name of their husband’s family.

Greetings include saying “Hello” or “Hi,” often followed by “How are you?” This inquiry is purely rhetorical.

Beyond the handshake, American men may sometimes embrace briefly—usually with a good thump on the back. But they’ll shrink from the sorts of embraces common in Latin America or European-style kisses on the cheek. These have homosexual overtones in the U.S., and regardless of a heterosexual male’s attitude toward someone else’s  homosexuality, to be perceived as homosexual is widely considered an insult. [Ed note: UUUUUUUUUGH]

“No” means “no,” whether it’s shouted in the boardroom or whispered at an informal dinner. Reluctance to emphatically state a negative response and the tendency to resort to euphemism (“that would be difficult”)—common approaches in many Asian cultures—are sources of aggravation to Americans, who are more concerned with knowing the intent of others than having their feelings spared.

Americans will sometimes emphasize a strongly held commitment, belief or position by banging on a table or suddenly standing up.

There is no national consensus on what’s funny.

From The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink by Andrew F. Smith

Dining etiquette became pointless in the pervasive fast food culture, although it was still recommended as a way of projecting success and savoir faire. [Ed note: I wonder what percentage of Americans stopped buying fish knives?]

From Star-Spangled Manners: In Which Miss Manners Defends American Etiquette by Judith Martin

The curiosity of having compassionate people attack a system that mandates and codifies the consideration of others is doubly-odd when the etiquette bashers are American, whose national etiquette refuses to dignify anything resembling class distinctions.

Failing to respect the symbolic power of apparently casual customs is asking for it. Examples of socially dangerous behavior are: not mustering enthusiasm for the local food delicacy, violating your  high school’s sense of propriety about dress, wearing a baseball cap at a baseball game when the National Anthem is playing, and suggesting a disconnection between  a bride’s being handed from her father’s protection to her husband’s in cases where the union has already been blessed with children.

From YUCK! …That Guy Didn’t Wash His Hands!: The Complete Guide to the American Man’s Bathroom Experience, including The Original American Bathroom Thesaurus by Brian J. Baker

Americans have a tacit fascination with bodily functions, none of which garner more of our cultural obsession than the three main acts of expelling human waste: Farting, Peeing, and Pooping.

Farting in anywhere but the toilet cube is seen as a serious bodily miscalculation.

Why the heck would anyone want to bring their opened food or drink in the bathroom?

We hope this has been enlightening. International readers! What have you been taught about dealing with Americans?

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3 thoughts on “How To Deal With Americans

  1. Americans don’t say “I’m going to the toilet”. They never ever say it. They say they’re going to the restroom if in a public setting, or the bathroom if in a home. It’s generally considered VERY rude to say you need to go take a piss, or even just that you need to go to the toilet. (I’m sure among close friends/family this is more relaxed)

  2. Oh! and also? that thing about Americans being abrupt DOES NOT APPLY in the South, where it’s considered rude not to listen practically to someone’s life story every time you call on them for business.

  3. Pingback: I Went To Sri Lanka And Remembered Etiquette Is Very Subjective | Uncommon Courtesy

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