Business Etiquette In USA

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By Adrian Cruce

It is well known that the culture in USA is characterized by a high level of individualism and this fact generates flexibility. What does it mean? It means that they like to be independent; therefore, new opportunities are always welcome and sometimes that means that changes are required.

Due to the great amount of men that are present in business fields, there still are differences related to sex. Yet, it has been remarked that there is a tendency among women to retrieve male models, seen as competitive and severe. Is this a good thing? The opinions are spread.

The American society works with fewer rules, less control and a high grade of tolerance when it comes to different ideas. We might think this has to do with their view over progress: in order to evolve, you need to change. But, their reason might not be so simple and revolutionary. The American population reached 300 million, SUA being the home of every race in the world.

In general, the states from the eastern coast are more conservative and formal in manners and clothes than the western ones. The work culture is incredibly developed, their main principles being: honesty, competition, punctuality and success via work.

What to wear?

business etiquette USA wear

In the big cities, men wear dark suits and tie. The color of the shirt has to be white (for formal meetings) or light blue (for less formal meetings). For a more conservative aspect, women also wear dark suits. Conclusion: wear something dark and you’ll make a good impression. As I said, the American culture differs from one place to another. In smaller cities you can wear informal clothes, sometimes even jeans. If the organization doesn’t claim a formal suit, casual clothes are very common.

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The greet

business etiquette USA great

The hand shakes last from 3 to 5 seconds and they need to be firm. Keep eye contact the entire time, because it is a sign of sincerity, trust and interest. The hand shake is usual for both men and women. Never hug them, though. This is only for friends and family. There is also a distance that you need to keep. The standard distance is 0.6m. If you get closer, it might generate discomfort. Remember to keep eye contact, but don’t make it too intense.

At the first meeting, use their family name, unless they tell you to call them by their nickname. Usually, Americans will tell you to use their nickname if they like you, because they don’t like intimidation and cold relations.



They say: “time is money” and that is for a good reason. Punctuality is very important and it shows the wish to accomplish things, the determination and the risk taking when it’s necessary.

Business Meetings

business meeting

The conversation must be in English, even though there is a minority of people in USA speaking Spanish. The discussions need to be work related and the sense of humor is highly appreciated. Their main reason is money so make sure you take it into consideration when you want to sustain an argument.

There are also less formal meetings. If they invite you to lunch or dinner, social conversations need to be included as well. Make sure you will not take too many pauses, because they don’t like awkward silence either. Don’t forget to leave a tip, which is 15% of what was consumed.

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The most important thing is the first impression you make. Keep in mind that they want to make a good first impression too. In the end, both sides have a common goal: to maintain a relationship that will bring benefits.