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Communications Presented by: Al Lun, Savita Katarya        Style and LanguageVerbal and Non-Verbal expressions   Workplace...
How Americans Speak• English (or American English)  – Accents:     • Standard American Accent also known as broadcaster   ...
Communication Style• Straight talk is valued  – Expressions examples: Get to the point, tell it like    it is, let the chi...
Titles/Forms of Address• The order of most names is first name, middle  name, last name• To show respect, use title such a...
Titles/Forms of Address -               continued• Certain professions tend to be respected and  honorifics are more often...
Body language• Americans are moderately expressive in their gestures   – Arm crossing could signal person is not receptive...
Within the company• First name basis is common  – The higher up a person is the more common is to    be referred to by his...
Workplace Communications – email       and instance messaging• Emails style tend to be casual and conversational   – Salut...
Tips (assume the best)• U. S. citizens are direct and may appear to be too much  in a hurry and even rude• Electronic comm...
Web/phone conference• Be on time• If you don’t understand something, let them know• Agree ahead of time how to interrupt w...
Learn to say No• When working with U.S  colleagues, international colleagues should  learn to say “No”, politely• Use tech...
United States Slangs• Very colorful and could be confusing to non-Americans• Baseball  – Play ball, low ball, hit a home r...
Conversation Starters• Greeting: How are you? Does not mean they  really want to know your condition.• Weather is good as ...
Ask for help• The majority of your US colleagues are eager  and willing to help, but you have to come right  out and ask• ...
Networking• Within IBM  – IBM clubs such as Toastmasters, PC Club also  – Diversity Council sponsored by HR:    ANG, BNG, ...
Negotiation• Americans favor speedy negotiations• Personal trust is good-to-have but not  overriding• They rely on contrac...
Gifts• Business gifts are discouraged by law• When you visit a home … may take flowers, a  plant or a bottle of wine• Afte...
Lessons Learned                  18
Halloween• The first year I was in the US as a foreign  student, one evening there was a loud  pounding on my apartment do...
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4 communications021510

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Understanding United States Culture
communications

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4 communications021510

  1. 1. Communications Presented by: Al Lun, Savita Katarya Style and LanguageVerbal and Non-Verbal expressions Workplace Communication Conversation starters Socialize, networking Negotiations 1
  2. 2. How Americans Speak• English (or American English) – Accents: • Standard American Accent also known as broadcaster accent • North East (New York, New England) • Southern • There is also distinct Minnesota accent – Ethic groups also have accents – In casual conversations especially in the South dropping of g’s are common. Many politicians do that to affect a common folk touch 2
  3. 3. Communication Style• Straight talk is valued – Expressions examples: Get to the point, tell it like it is, let the chips fall they may, Don’t beat around the bush – Advice to non-U.S. colleagues • Use tact, be direct 3
  4. 4. Titles/Forms of Address• The order of most names is first name, middle name, last name• To show respect, use title such as Dr., Ms., Miss, Mrs and last name, for example: – You: “Glad to meet you, Dr. Smith” – John Smith: “Please call me John”• Nick names are common: Al for Albert, Niki for Nicole, Liz for Elizabeth … can be surprising, Jack for John, egBased on the book “Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands” 4
  5. 5. Titles/Forms of Address - continued• Certain professions tend to be respected and honorifics are more often granted to physicians, politicians, professors – Even this is not always the case…Al was still “surprised” when his daughter called her PhD thesis professor by his first name 5
  6. 6. Body language• Americans are moderately expressive in their gestures – Arm crossing could signal person is not receptive – They also have a distrust for people who are too expressive • Hand-waving is an expression to suggest that someone does not have the facts and tries to use gestures to tell the story• Spacing should be about two feet• When sitting, U. S. citizens often look very relaxed. They might prop their feet up on chairs or desks• Giving and receiving items—with one hand and tossing is also common• U. S. citizens smile easily and look for eye contact (not stare)• Same sex do not hold hands• Hand-shake – firm but not crushing 6
  7. 7. Within the company• First name basis is common – The higher up a person is the more common is to be referred to by his/her first name • Therefore, IBM’s Sam Palmisano is Sam • Rule of thumb: – The more someone is referred to by his/or first name only is a sign of fame and recognition – But be careful how you sign off your letter (by first name or by first and last name). If you have not earned the spot, you cannot just sign off with your first name 7
  8. 8. Workplace Communications – email and instance messaging• Emails style tend to be casual and conversational – Salutations by first name • Don’t be surprised some U. S. emailers neglect to start with salutations. – U. S. emailers can be direct. “I need this now.” “Call me.” “What is the status?”• Instant Messaging (known as sametime at IBM) is common – Even more short and direct in style than voice communication – May compound the sense of being in a hurry or short – Don’t interpret your US colleague don’t want to talk to you or that he is rude … it’s the communication medium 8
  9. 9. Tips (assume the best)• U. S. citizens are direct and may appear to be too much in a hurry and even rude• Electronic communication media (email and instant messaging) make the communication even more direct• International colleagues would do well to not assume the U. S. colleagues are rude or too demanding. View it from the cultural perspective of U. S. directness and the pressure of multi-tasking• Try not to take offense or over-interpret while you maintain your own cultural style of communication of being more polite, cordial 9
  10. 10. Web/phone conference• Be on time• If you don’t understand something, let them know• Agree ahead of time how to interrupt when someone on the other side is going on and on and you are lost, eg. Agree that you will press the phone key to let them know you have a question• If your team needs to talk things over, tell your U.S colleagues• If you run the meeting, send agenda and supporting material ahead of time. 10
  11. 11. Learn to say No• When working with U.S colleagues, international colleagues should learn to say “No”, politely• Use technique such as to say “if to do this, we will have to give up something else”• When giving estimates for when to deliver, learn to add a xx% buffer (called fat by Americans)• This is also known as “push back” in Americanism and they do it very often 11
  12. 12. United States Slangs• Very colorful and could be confusing to non-Americans• Baseball – Play ball, low ball, hit a home run, go to bat for someone• Football: – Hail Mary Pass• Misc – Shoot the breeze – Take it offline – Throw someone under the bus• Minnesotan – You bet – Whatever 12
  13. 13. Conversation Starters• Greeting: How are you? Does not mean they really want to know your condition.• Weather is good as a starter especially in Minnesota• Sports – Football, basketball, golf• School• Americans have hobbits like gardening, home improvement, cooking, wood-working. Find out what your colleagues are interested in and ask them about their projects 13
  14. 14. Ask for help• The majority of your US colleagues are eager and willing to help, but you have to come right out and ask• Be polite and yet still be assertive – For example • “Excuse me, tell me more about what you mean.” • “Where can I find more information?” • “Can you please put that in writing for me so I can better understand?” 14
  15. 15. Networking• Within IBM – IBM clubs such as Toastmasters, PC Club also – Diversity Council sponsored by HR: ANG, BNG, Women etc. • Many of the diversity groups act as hosts for you – Also, there is cross-cultural mentoring (Teresa Kan)• Outside IBM in Rochester – Many service (non-profit) organizations – Ethnic cultural groups 15
  16. 16. Negotiation• Americans favor speedy negotiations• Personal trust is good-to-have but not overriding• They rely on contracts and legal papers• Transparent, contractual, competitive bidding, upfront• Explains the number of lawyers, law suits – Community-based mediation (non-binding) is becoming an alternative 16
  17. 17. Gifts• Business gifts are discouraged by law• When you visit a home … may take flowers, a plant or a bottle of wine• After visiting someone or having received a present from someone it is common to write a Thank You card. 17
  18. 18. Lessons Learned 18
  19. 19. Halloween• The first year I was in the US as a foreign student, one evening there was a loud pounding on my apartment door. I open the door and in front of me found the scariest scene in front of me. Half a dozen of people were all dressed in ghostly costumes and wearing make ups resembling the blood- thirsty demons. They all yelled at me and I slammed the door quickly on them. 19

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