China does a lot of business and trade with the United States, and so there are many websites devoted to helping business people navigate American peculiarities. Using Google to translate advice written in “simplified Han” for Chinese readers into English allows Americans a tiny, possibly imprecise peek into how the people of China view life in the United States. As always, we welcome comments and clarifications from Chinese-readings Flossers.
1. If an American Goes Silent, You’re in Trouble
Americans do not like silence. They will keep talking, so as not to abort the conversation, without a moment’s pause. If you do not make a sound for a long time, the Americans will try to get you to join in the conversation. They might ask if you are physically uncomfortable, or if you need help. However, if Americans do not agree with what you say, then there may be silence. Them not saying anything doesn’t necessarily mean that they agree with you, but that they think continuing the debate with you will not be polite. [Source]
2. They Don’t Realize How Weird it is to Just Call Them by Their First Name
Americans do not pay attention to "status," especially social status. Most Americans do not want their relationship with you to be affected by age or social standing. If you act especially respectful to them, they will be uncomfortable. Many Americans feel even "Mr.," "Mrs.," and "Miss" titles are too polite. Regardless of age, everyone likes to be called by their first names. However, if you feel bad using their first names, you can just smile at each other. Since differences in social class are not taken seriously in the US, Americans have no hereditary family title. Instead, the Americans sometimes have occupational title. This title is different from the family title, because it is on its own, "earned" rather than handed down by the ancestors. Their career titles are most commonly that of a judge, senior government officials, military officers, doctors, professors and religious leaders.
3. They Deliberately Do Their Own Laundry
America is a "do-it-yourself" country. Americans in general, whether doctors, professors, businessmen, or lawyers, do their own cooking, laundry, shopping and other work. In fact, many Americans can afford to spend money to have cooks and drivers, but they do not do so. They prefer to enjoy a quiet family, and if the family has hired a helper, there is less sense of quiet. When the American family eats, the food is either served from a central dish, or the host or hostess gives out food to the guests. Most families do not have a waiter, the cook is usually the wife, and the husband makes cocktails.
4. They Don’t Know Anything about China but Don’t Let It Bother You
You may encounter some Americans who know little about your country. If there is such a case, please tolerate them. Unfortunately, very few Americans are schooled on the culture and customs of other countries. America spans from one ocean to another, and all the other countries are far away. As a result, Americans are not too familiar with the cultures and different ways of working in other countries.
5. Stop Everything, Listen up, and No Interrupting
Americans like eloquent, witty conversations. Although American society is filled with an atmosphere of informality, they expect a different attitude when listening to someone speak. The American generally wants the listener to stop everything at hand and listen to him. Americans do not like to be interrupted when speaking; the best guests have the best ears. Americans also allow others to criticize the United States; a host often asks what the guests think of the United States, and he would be happy to exchange views. [Source]
6. Don’t Get Too Close. They Might Knock You Over With Their Constant Gestures
When two men talk, a distance of 1.2 m apart is appropriate, otherwise it will make the listener uneasy. When a group of people participate in the conversation, you usually have to know one of the people to join. But at a party or other informal social occasion, just say "I can attend?" Slightly introduce yourself, and you can participate in the conversation. For conversations, a distance of more than 50 cm must be maintained. If you have to move closer, or must sit next to someone closely, get the consent of the other party. Americans like to use gestures. To ask you to answer the phone, they will make a phone gesture. They will call the waiter with a check writing gesture. Also, Americans do not give each other business cards as a matter of course; only when the cards are needed to facilitate future contact.
7. Handshakes: You’ll probably need a cheat sheet
After a brief introduction, exchange a firm handshake, so Americans will think you are frank and sincere. In business cases, the U.S. woman will take the initiative to reach out to the man. Women generally do not shake hands with each other. If the Miss doesn’t offer a handshake, the men should nod or bow. And handshakes with a Miss are not too tight. Gloves before shaking hands should be taken off, and if it is too late to take them off, you should apologize. A farewell does not have handshakes. You wave your hand to say “goodbye!”
8. If Their Haircut is Ugly, Make Your Eyes Bright and Say, “Cute!”
Always smile when you meet acquaintances. Your tone when speaking should be sincere, you should have a generous attitude when someone greets you, and speak as concisely as possible. Multi-praise each other. Your eyes should get a little brighter when someone changes a hairstyle, or when you see other people's photos. There is a good time to praise. If the changes or photos are bad, find another way to appear pleasant, such as saying "Cute!"
9. You May Not Fondle Furnishings
Guests cannot come early, it is rude. You may be late 5-10 minutes. If you are the host, you cannot wear pajamas at night to receive guests. You are not free to fondle furnishings or decorations and you cannot inquire about prices.
10. Shorts + High Heels = Call Girl
Americans dress casual and wear a variety of clothing in public places. Most of the time they like to wear T-shirts, jackets, jeans, sweatshirts, sneakers. They dress exquisitely clean. Men's pants do not expose their underpants, woman dresses cannot expose their petticoat. Women should wear stockings with a nice skirt. Not shorts with high heels, otherwise they will be mistaken for call girls. Painted eyebrows and thick lipstick is another sign. However, anyone can wear a vest or pajamas in public. [Source]
11. Show Humility to Ladies—They’re In Charge
In public, the Americans show particular respect for women. Everywhere is “Ladies First.” In social situations, men must show humility to ladies. Men must walk on the outside of the sidewalk, let the woman sit first, open the door for a woman, move out of the way on the stairs or in the elevator to let the woman advance, let women order first at a meal, and let the woman get up to leave first. And when you greet a woman, you must stand up.
12. You’re Doing a Good Job in Your Own Way
Americans' ancestors came from all over the world, so in the United States there are no officially "recognized" social customs. Therefore, when you travel to the United States and want to do something according to the customs of your own country, do not feel embarrassed or that something is wrong. While Americans are informal, if you want to dress formal in a social situation, people will think you are doing a good job in your own way. People will accept.