US Etiquette Basics Every Worker Needs to Know

It can be difficult to adjust to the different way things are done in a new country. Here are some tips for living in the United States!
It can be difficult to adjust to the different way things are done in a new country. Here are some tips for living in the United States!

Did you know that there are over 40 million non-born residents in the United States? For these people and many others, it can be difficult to learn the customs for the workplace.

But understanding normal behaviors and customs (sometimes called norms) can help you to thrive in the job marketplace.

Read on for 3 US business etiquette basics every person should know.

1. US Business Etiquette: A Good Introduction Is Everything

One of the most important things you can do in any business interaction is to introduce yourself clearly and appropriately.

When meeting new people in a business setting it is customary to shake right hands firmly and briefly. Other hand gestures are not considered normal.

These verbal greetings are also appropriate:

  • Hello
  • Good morning/afternoon

If you are meeting with someone specifically, you should follow that greeting by confirming that they are the person you’re seeking. Simply ask, “Are you Mr./Mrs./Ms. Jones?” If you are meeting several people or are in a meeting setting, you can go without this step.

Then introduce yourself. “I am [your name]. It’s good to meet you.”

If you are hosting the meeting or the meeting is happening in your office, it would be appropriate to invite them to sit or offer them a drink. You can say, “Please, have a seat. Can I offer you a glass of water?”

Once you’ve introduced yourself, you can proceed with your meeting.

2. American Conversation Etiquette

You’ll begin to notice that in business conversations most Americans are direct and assertive. Be careful not to confuse that with bluntness. While many Americans will get right to the point they will still maintain politeness with phrases like, “please”, “thank you”, “you’re welcome”, “excuse me”.

This politeness should extend to every person you interact with in business and social situations.

Many Americans feel uncomfortable with silence or gaps in conversation. They will engage in something called “small talk” or conversations that are unrelated to business like weather, their families, travel plans, etc. to fill time during silences.

This may be appropriate in some business situations, and not in others. If you’re unsure whether to engage in small talk, follow the lead of the other people in the meeting. If they seem to feel comfortable with silence, then staying quiet would be best. If they engage in small talk, it’s appropriate to participate.

3. Americans Love Rules

You may begin to notice that in business practices, Americans tend to take the rules very seriously.

When agreements are made, they are done so by signing detailed contracts. Sometimes lawyers are present.

This isn’t to stifle innovation or creativity. Americans like business rules because they know that rules and laws protect them.

Adopting the mentality of strict adherence to rules will help you and fellow employees succeed. They can be free to be creative and innovative without jeopardizing the business or its interests.

Remember This

Understanding US business etiquette in the United States of America will help you not only survive the workplace but thrive in it.

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Read Next: 3 Customs You Should Follow in American Business Meetings


English Pronunciation & Fluency Expert
Annie Ruden M.S.CCC-SLP
CEO | Accent Reduction Trainer
[email protected]

Be Understood. Be Confident.