You’d be forgiven for thinking that the UK and the USA had similar corporate cultures, but you’ll be surprised to discover that doing business in these countries can be very different. So before you accept a job in either of these destinations, keep your mind open to the following.
Know the difference: USA vs UK in business
British: Master of the understatement
The British tend to be masters of the understatement and might often intersperse crisis situations with humour. They also tend to be very upfront when it comes to communication, but a lot more indirect when they have to give feedback.
Americans: A lot more forthright
Americans tend to be a lot more forthright and take crisis situations a lot more seriously. Humour when the ‘ship is going down’ is not welcomed or taken lightly.
British: More reserved in opinion
When the British are called on for opinions in meetings, they tend to be a lot more reserved, preferring the discussion to take place slowly and organically.
Americans: A focus on brainstorming
Americans tend to prioritise brainstorming in meetings, encouraging everyone to share their opinions, ideas and views.
British: dry wit and a little aloof
The British workplace tends to be a little more reserved when it comes to strangers and many people can see this as aloofness, although it is not unfriendliness. They just take a little longer to “warm up”. Conversations tend to focus on the weather, the transport and the local news or relevant global issues.
Americans: Brash and welcoming
Many British people can find American humour a lot more brash and less subtle. But where Americans do score points is in the area of welcoming strangers. Americans are overtly friendly and enjoy making small talk.
Enthusiasm and passion are important parts of the American business environment and people embrace this, whether they are greeting a guest or arguing a point in a debate. In terms of conversation, Americans are also a lot more personal, preferring to talk about home life, local sports and the entertainment world. They like to find common ground with strangers before they conduct business, so be prepared to share!
British: More formal dress
If you are working in corporate life in Britain or the banking and finance sector, don’t be surprised to discover you need a snappy set of work shirts, ties and cufflinks. The British follow classic dress codes and darker colours are preferred, unless you are trying to make a statement. In the higher management levels, tailor-made suits, bespoke fashion and high-end brands are the norm as people embrace quality to denote their status.
Americans: Casual and informal
Dress-down Friday is a common practice in the USA and very few people choose to wear high-end clothing to business meetings and work in general. The east coast takes a more formal approach to business clothing while the west coast is a lot more relaxed.
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