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In USA, the work environment is professional as well as casual. Americans have a wide variety of jobs, office and work environment and work culture may differentiate across different industries and different parts of the country. In addition to this, even different companies in a same industry and in the same areas may vary in business culture and office environment. This guide is primarily targeted towards professional jobs in high-tech industries.
The working environment and dress code in USA is different. Employees prefer to dress in a casual manner until and unless company policy states otherwise. It is usually practiced ion USA that some of the people work as employees in the employer's office, while other people work as consultants or contractors at the client's office.
There are certain points below that reveals what actually American business culture isâ€¦â€¦.
MEETINGS AND GREETINGS
In USA, greetings are generally quite informal. This does not mean that it is done to show lack of respect, but it is the following of the American belief that everyone is equal.
Shaking of hand is a very expected thing in every business situation, but some Americans do not shake hand at social events. Instead of this, they may greet you with a casual "hello" or just a "hi". In larger groups, many of them may not greet you at all.
The only way to answer "How do you do?" or "How are you?" is to say "fine", "great" or "well". It is simply a pleasantry, not a request for information about your health.
Handshakes are usually brief. Light handshakes are considered distasteful or in negative sense. So always use a firm grip. Always make an eye contact with the person with whom you are shaking hand.
One should always stand while being introduced. Only the elderly, the physical unable person and the ill remain seated while being introduced or greeted.
It is good to add some information of the person whom you are introducing to some other person. For Example, "Sam, I would like to introduce Ted Johnson. He designed the brochure that we are using in this project".
"See you later" is mere an expression. People used to say this even if they do not want or plan to see you again.
Always maintain a distance while conversing with anyone. F an American feels that you are standing too close to him/ she, he or she will himself or she may back step without even thinking about it.
Americans generally feel uncomfortable with same-sex touching, especially between males.
Never use your middle finger to point out something as it itself is considered to be very vulgar and insulting.
Tapping or a light clap on the back is generally used by some Americans, which shows a sign of friendship. These types of people are known as "back slappers".
Americans tend to exchange their business cards casually. It is for the purpose of a source of future information. There is no set ritual to exchange business cards.
Directness and straightforwardness is preferred by Americans. If they are saying "yes" or "no", they mean it. "May be" really does mean "it might happen" or "it might not happen".
Silence is avoided in meetings, whether it is social or business. Americans are often uncomfortable with silence.
Written communication is given a great importance in American corporate world. All American laws require contracts and agreements to be written out.
Punctuality is one of the most important traits of Americans. Being "on time" in business situations generally means being about five minutes early. Five minutes late is acceptable with a brief apology.
If you are given a deadline to accomplish a work, then you have to complete it on time because in USA, people who miss the deadlines are often considered as irresponsible and careless.
Meetings are usually interactive. Participation is always appreciated. A person who is quite is considered to be not prepared for the meeting.
MEN: The socks should match your suit. No leg should show between pant hem and shoe. Remove your hat when indoors.
WOMEN: Do not overdress for daytime or wear flashy or noisy jewelry. Make-up should be light. Low-cut blouses, short skirts and tight clothing should be avoided in office.
DINING AND ENTERTAINMENT
Americans conduct business over Breakfast. Lunch or dinner. Te conversation may start on some informal or casual matters but often the conversation will revolve around the business matters only.
The person who is extending the invitation to a meal pays the bill for it.
The fork is always held in the left hand and the knife is held in the right hand.
Always raise a hand or index finger and make an eye contact to signal or call a server. Never shout "waiter".
Never start eating until everyone is served and your host has started begun to eat. Firstly, serve all the women at the table.
Since, I am transferred to Japan for five years, so I will be facing many cross-cultural differences there because there are a lot of differences in the business culture and working environment of USA and Japan.
Cross culture is an important issue in inter-national business. It refers to the interactions among the people from different backgrounds, different cultures and different countries in the business world. Cross culture is a vital issue because the success of international business and trade largely depends upon the smooth interaction among employees belonging to different regions and cultures.
A large number of multi-national companies are devoting some of their resources towards training their employees to interact effectively with the companies who belong to different cultures. This is an effort that leads to positive cross-cultural experience.
The core of cross culture is to establish and understand the phenomena that how people from different cultures communicate with each other.
CROSS CULTURAL COMMUNICATION
Cross cultural communication is also termed as "Intercultural communication". It is a field of study that looks upon how the people from different cultures and backgrounds communicate with each other, by using similar or different ways among them, and how they Endeavour to communicate across cultures.
Cross cultural communication not only looks upon how people from different countries and different cultures interact with each other but it also provides certain guidelines with which people from different backgrounds can communicate with each other in a better manner.
Cross culture communication is a combination of many other disciplines. These disciplines include anthropology, cultural studies psychology and communication.
Cross cultural communication is mainly based upon the knowledge of certain factors which are as follows:
Cultural values, perception, manners and social structure of the other country.
Understanding of how members of the group communicate i.e. verbally, non-verbally, in person, in writing etc.
Now let us talk about the Japanese business culture.
BUSINESS CULTURE IN JAPAN
The Japanese business culture is generally limited to Japan's large business corporations. These flagships of the Japanese economy provide excellent working conditions, secure employment and excellent salaries to their employees.
Japanese are very much concerned about their traditions. For them, their customs, traditions and culture are very important and any business setting is no exception. When you are doing any business in Japan, make sure that you are not breaching any rule of Japanese culture, if you want your business deal to continue.
There are certain points below that reveals what actually Japanese business culture isâ€¦â€¦.
MEETINGS AND GREETINGS
A handshake is appropriate upon meeting. Usually, the Japanese handshake is limp. It takes place with a little or even no eye contact.
Some of the Japanese bow and shake hands. In Japan, the bow is regarded as a sign of high respect and also it is appreciated by the Japanese.
In Japanese business culture nodding is very important. It shows that you are listening to what other is saying and understanding the speaker. It becomes more important when the Japanese speak, especially in English.
Silence is an expected form of non-verbal communication and it is natural also. So, they do not feel a need to chatter.
One should not stand too close and maintain a distance while conversing. Touching should be avoided.
Continuous eye contact is considered rude.
Avoid affection in public like hugging or shoulder slapping.
Never point at someone with four fingers spread out and thumb folded in.
Punctuality is most important in all business as well as social meetings.
It is greatly appreciated when one has knowledge about Japanese culture to any degree.
Japanese may exchange their business cards even before bow or shake hand. It is important that your business card should state your rank.
The early negotiations always start with middle level managers. One should not try to go over to senior management.
It is important to introduce the business contacts. The introducer himself became the guarantor of the person being introduced.
Dress is conservative and modern. The Japanese dress well at every occasion and at all times. They used to dress nicely for parties even if it is a casual party.
In business, men used to wear dark suits with ties.
Women should wear modern and conservative dresses, suits and shoes with heels.
DINING AND ENTERTAINMENT
Do not say "no" when you are offered a drink as drinking is a group activity.
An empty glass is considered as asking for another drink. So always try to keep your glass at least half full if you do not want another drink. Similarly in the case of food, if your plate is empty it means you want more of it. So leave a little food on your plate when are finished eating.
Toasting is important in Japan. Always wait for the toast before you start drinking and always respond to each toast with a toast itself.
Do not start eating until your host begun to eat and also wait till all are served.
So, above mentioned points were related to the Japanese business culture and work environment.
Whenever a person goes to another country to work in, he or she always feel certain differences in the working environment, business culture, the rules and regulations and style of working.
BUSINESS CULTURAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN USA AND JAPAN:
In Japan, a person is alwys greeted with a bow which expresses high respect, gratitude, sometimes sympathy or an apology. It is an integral part of Japanese culture. But in USA a person is greeted with mere a handshake and sometimes only with just a "hi" or "hello". Handshkes are firm, confident and brief with proper eye contact in American culture but in Japanese culture, handshakes are limp with little or no eye contact.
In USA, tapping on the back is considered to be na expreesion of friendship or motivation but in Japanese business culture touching or back slapping is avoided.
There is a big difference in the dress code of both the countries. In USA, employees used to wear casual dresses until the company policy states otherwise but in Japan, employees are very much particular about their dress code. Men have to wear Suits with ties and women have to mear modern and conservative dresses.
Silence is usually avoided in American business or sosial meetings but in Japan it is an expected form of non-verbal communication.
In USA work culture it is necessary to maintain an eye contact with the person whom you are talking with or greeting but in Japanese business culture prolonged eye contact is considered as rude.
Americans are more friendly and casuaul in antire as compared to Japanese. They are more formal in nature.
Table manneres are more relaxed in USA as compared to Japan.
Americans like change. They frequently change their jobs and move but Japanese can work in the same company through out their whole career life.
Only 3% of the companies in Japan have a woman on their boards, whereas in USA this percentage is 86%.
There is a ritual of giving gift in Japan at business meetings as well as social meetings but in USA, there is no such custom concered with gift giving.
So, these were the cross cultural differences that create problms in adjusting in a new country with different culture. But these prblems can be overcame with the help of following points.
GUIDELINES TO OVERCOME CROSS CULTURAL DIFFERENCES:
Though bowing while greeting is vital inJapan but as an American, one is not expected to bow. The thing that is more important here is to show respect and gratitude, it can be with a handshake or a bow.
It is important to use full name followed by the company's name at the time of intriduction. Alawys use proper titles when addressing someone.
Excahanging business cards is seen to represent the individual. So make sure to keep ample cards with you, with one side printed in Japanese. Always offer the card with both the hands or with the right hand with Japanese side up.
Communication is the main problem in cross cultural businesses. Always explian and clarify the meaning of what you are saying to maitain harmony.
Try to learn the culture and customs of the country in which you have to reside now. It is important to have a smooth and efficient life as you have to work in that country now, with the country men, so it is for your benefit.
From the above discussion, the only thing that can be concluded is that when one preson changes the work place from one city to another or from ane country to another, cultural or cross cultural differences will always be there, but there is a solution for every problem. Every problem can be overcome, the only thing is to understand is how to do thatâ€¦â€¦..
It is correctly said that "WHEN IN ROME, DO AS THE ROMANSâ€¦â€¦â€¦" but we can conclude hereâ€¦â€¦.
"WHEN IN JAPAN, DO AS THE JAPANESE â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦"