USA Assignment: Tips for Living in the U.S.A

The following is an information sheet that was given to German employees taking assignments in the USA.  I love #9!
  1. Try to avoid politics as a subject of discussion if at all possible.  Use phrases like, “I am still trying to figure out what he/she stands for” or “That seems like it might have been a mistake, but I don’t know if the US really had a choice” or “Germans really have a problem with the idea of war, what with their history and all” (with regard to the war in Iraq).
  2.  DO NOT sit at somebody else’s table regardless of how full a restaurant is.  It simply is not done, with the possible exception of McDonalds.
  3. Proper table manners in the USA are that if a hand is not necessary, it should be resting in your lap.  This is also the place where your napkin should remain throughout the meal.  A napkin on the table indicates that you wish to order or are finished eating (depending on what stage of the event you are in).
  4. Wedding rings are worn on the left hand.
  5. Stand in line.  Americans do not tolerate people “cutting in”. It would not be the first time that Americans killed for their “rights”.
  6. Give them a bit more room; they are simply accustomed to it.  Should you bump into someone, or jostle someone, or step on a toe . . . excuse yourself.  Should someone do the same thing to you, it is customary to excuse yourself as well. In no case is it wise to insist on an apology or get into a debate about whose fault it was.  It would not be the first time that some unwitting soul died for his “rights” in the USA.
  7. Taxes are not included in the price.
  8. DO NOT call a toilet by that name.  In a hotel or restaurant it is a “men’s/ladies’ room”, a restroom, or a powder room.  In a private home it is referred to as the “bathroom”.
  9. Americans are not widely known for their listening skills.  They much prefer to talk.  At a table of eight, all eight may be speaking at the same time.  To get into a conversation with just one of them, try the following approach:
  • Select one sitting near you
  • Listen carefully to determine the subject matter (but not too long)
  • Wait for an opening (dangerous, German openings may never appear)
  • Dive in!

Categories: Culture & Diversity, Language Translation & Interpretation, New Americans, Doing Business Internationally - Exporting

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