The U.S.A.
• Prior appointments are necessary.
• Punctuality is very important for business occasions.
Delays may be caused by city traffic.
Call to let your contact know if you’ll be late.
• If you are invited for a meal, you should arrive
• If invited to a private home for dinner, don’t arrive
• When invited to a cocktail party, it’s usually
permissible to arrive a few minutes late.
• People in the US write the month first, then the day,
then the year.
e.g. January 6, 2004 is written 1/6/04.
Terms of address
• When meeting someone for the first time, use a title
and their last name until you are told to do otherwise.
• First-name basis reflects a more casual style rather
than a sign of intimacy.
• When not sure of a woman’s marital status, use “Ms”.
• If encountering a name which is difficult to pronounce,
don’t be afraid to ask.
• The letters “Jr.” after a man’s name (e.g. Arthur
Dobson Jr.) signify that he was named after his father.
• The Roman numeral III or IV after a man’s name
indicates a third or fourth generation, with the same
name as his predecessors (e.g. Thomas Reed III).
Gift Giving
• Presenting a gift is a thoughtful gesture, but it is not
• Usually gifts are presented at holidays, birthdays,
weddings, or when visiting a patient.
• Business gifts are often presented after the deal is
• Gifts are usually unwrapped immediately and shown to
all who are present.
• You may not receive a gift in return right away.
• For business associates, you can gifts such as useful
items for the office, liquor or wine.
• When visiting a home, flowers, a potted plant, or a
bottle of wine are good gift choice.
Gift giving—cont’d
• Choose gifts with no religious connotations (e.g. don’t
buy Christmas ornaments).
• Taking someone out for a meal or other entertainment
is another popular gift.
• Perfume or clothing are usually inappropriate gifts for
women. (too personal).
• When buying gifts for children, the values of the
parents must be taken into consideration. (e.g. a toy
gun or a violent video game)
• Many Americans like to use idiomatic language. They
often adopt sports terms in their speech.
“touch base”, “ballpark figure”, “team players”
• Americans often ask,” What do you do?” to show
interest in the individual by asking his/her job.
• Compliments are exchanged frequently and are
popular “conversation starters.” (e.g. clothing, sports
related achievement)
• Jokes and a sense of humor goes a long way. Ethnic and
religious humor should be always avoided.
• In business situations, be prepared to play golf and talk
business at the same time.
• Welcome topics:
a person’s job/work-related matters
• Topics to avoid:
religion, politics, or other controversial subjects (e.g.
abortion, racism, sexism)
Refrain from asking women if they are married.
• Breakfast start at 7 a.m. Brunch begins from 11a.m. to
2 p.m. Lunch starts at noon and lasts until 2 p.m.
Dinner, the main meal of the day can start between 5:30
and 8:00 p.m.
• It is not considered rude to eat or drink while walking
down the street.
• If you are invited out for a business meal, the host will
usually pay. If the host does not offer to pay, you should
be prepared to pay for your own meal.
• If you invite a U.S. counterpart out socially, you should
make it clear whether you wish to pay.
• Americans use “Excuse me”, “Please” and “Thank you”
frequently in dining situations.
Home Entertaining
• It is a custom in many U.S. homes to give guests a tour
of the general rooms of the house when guests arrive.
• The host’s or hostesses’s spouse or partner is usually a
full participant in the conversation.
• It is perfectly acceptable to refuse an offer of food or
• Don’t be afraid to ask for something. Use manners and
ask politely.
• American hostess would usually say “This is my cup of
tea; I hope you’ll like it.” to urge her guest to eat.
• Do not wear hats in someone’s home.
• Umbrellas and rain coats should be left outside the
front gate.
• Don’t leave right away nor should you stay too long
after dinner.
Public Behavior
• Practice driving before getting on the freeways,
particularly during rush hours.
• Smoking is not as commonplace and is subject to
restrictions in most public places (e.g. California).
• A handshake is the customary greeting for both men
and women.
• Americans tend to refrain from greetings that involve
hugging and other close physical contact, except with
family members and friends.
• They are unreceptive to being touched during
conversation and other social situations.
• The standard conversational proximity is about two
Public Behavior—cont’d
• Do not hold hands or dance with a person of the same
sex as you.
• Direct eye contact shows sincerity but it should not be
too intense.
• It’s o.k. to use the index finger to point, although it is
impolite to point at another person.
• Signs for approval: the “o.k.” sign and the “thumbs up”
• Americans adopt very relaxed sitting postures.
Crossing legs knee over knee is not considered arrogant.
• When giving an item to another person, it’s common to
toss it or hand it over with only one hand.
Public Behavior—cont’d
• Do not take off your socks or shoes in front of other
• Ladies who drink alone or in a small group at a bar
send a strong signal of saying “I/We are available.”
• Do not stick your tongue out when surprised or
• Body odor or bad breath should be avoided.
• Consume an appropriate amount of alcohol at parties.
Don’t get drunk!
Cocktail Parties
• Cocktail is an alcoholic drink, made by mixing two or
more drinks together.
• Origin of the name “cocktail”:
--the son-in-law of a king using a cocktail feather on
his hat to mix drinks
--the colorful drink made by hunters when hunting
in the mountains of western Europe
--the drink mixed by an owner of a tavern in
Kentucky to thank the person who found his
pet rooster
--the drink made by an owner of a tavern to
celebrate the victory of the US Independence War
(The tavern used a colorful cocktail feather as its sign.)
Cocktail Parties—cont’d
There is no fixed seating assignment.
Most people stand up and walk around in the party.
People are free to leave at any time.
Cocktail parties are usually held between 2:30-5:30 in
big hotels; between 4-6 or 5-7 in bars or a private
American names
• First name, Middle name, Last name
First name is a person’s Christian name.
Middle name is usually abbreviated and shows the
relationship of the person and his/her family and
• Last names were not used in Europe until the 11th C;
and were not generally adopted until the Renaissance
era in the 16th C.
American Jews were forced by law to use last names at
the end of the 18th C and the beginning of the 19th C.
African American’s last names were first passed down
to them by their masters.
American Names—cont’d
• Americans like to name their children after famous
people, e.g. Martin, William, George, Elizabeth, Mary
and so on.
• Many Americans give their own names to their children,
with “Jr.” added. For example: Franklin Roosevelt Jr.;
Henry Rockefeller Jr.
• Nicknames are common: Jimmy for James; Johnny for
John; Bill for William; Bob for Robert; Liz for
Elizabeth; etc.
• Married women adopt their husbands last names.
American Holidays
New Year’s Day
Lincoln’s Birthday
Valentine’s Day
Washington’s Birthday
St. Patrick’s Day
April Fool’s Day
Mother’s Day
Memorial Day
Father’s Day
Independence Day
Labor Day
New Year Celebrations
Time square, NY
Churches (ring belles)
New year count downs at big cities and tourist spots
New year parades (Philadelphia; California)
Major sports activities (the Rose Bowl; Orange Bowl)
New year resolutions

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