United States



Americans approach sensitive work topics cautiously. Euphemisms communicate uncomfortable messages. Ambiguity can be helpful. Depending on the topic, Americans will address it indirectly. Indirect communication is considered to be both polite and effective. Patterns

Work vs. Person

Americans connect the professional with the personal. Statements made about a proposal, a concept, or work results are by definition statements about that person’s competence, experience, and skills. Patterns

Small Talk

In the U.S. small talk is essential. It gets communication going. Small talk allows people to get a sense for the overall atmosphere. Americans seldom jump directly into subject matter. Business is personal. Patterns

Controversial Topics

Americans avoid any tension which could damage a personal or working relationship. They seek out commonalities, look for reasons to connect, not separate. It’s difficult to argue about the weather. Patterns

Unsolicited Advice

Americans seldom give colleagues unsolicited advice. Even then, depending on how sensitive the topic is, they will communicate their advice in carefully worded language. Patterns



A yes in the American context is more the rule than exception. Americans almost instinctively say yes to assisting a colleague or to serving a customer. The American yes, however, has different degrees of firmness. Patterns


A no in the American context is more the exception than the rule. Americans pride themselves on being can-do, open, helpful, people. Americans feel uncomfortable saying the word no. They couch their no in affirmative, encouraging words. Patterns


Once Americans have entered into an agreement they are in constant contact. They see no reason to go into great depth about the context of that agreement. Because they reserve the right to alter or to exit the agreement. Patterns


In the U.S. follow-up is frequent. Americans enter into many agreements and on a constant basis. Follow-up is how they maintain a common understanding of the status of those agreements. Patterns


Americans expect the initial parts of a deliverable as quickly as possible. A partial deliverable early often meets the needs better than the complete product on time. Speed is preferred to completeness. Patterns


Message vs. Messenger

Americans link message and messenger. The message, its form, and its presenter create a unity. In the U.S. business context the presenter takes center stage. Americans believe that “you sell yourself first, then your product or service.” Patterns

Problem vs. Opportunity

Americans strive to see problems as opportunities. And opportunities are to be exploited. Competent is that person able to recognize opportunities in difficult situations. In the American business context to be persuasive is to focus primarily on opportunities. Patterns

System vs. Particular

Americans are particularistic in their thinking. They prefer to break down complexity into its component parts, in order to focus on what is essential. Americans are skeptical of theory. Facts and experience are far more persuasive. Patterns

Past vs. Future

For Americans to be realistic means understanding what is possible. The possible is determined not only by past and present circumstances, but also by the ability to shape a new future. Persuasive is explaining how to move from the present into the future. Patterns

Inform vs. Sell

In the U.S. business world to persuade means to sell persuasively. Persuasive argumentation leads the audience to a choice. The audience is then asked to make a decision. Americans ask the so-called closing question in a direct and frontal way. They sell. Patterns



Americans consciously break down complexity into its component parts in order to focus on what is essential. Because of that the scope of their decisions is narrow. Americans avoid interconnecting too many decisions. Patterns


Americans gather limited, but highly relevant, information. In-depth analysis is done only when necessary. Americans apply rigorous tools of analysis. However, they balance them with pragmatism. Americans trust their intuition. Patterns


The United States has always been a country abundant in resources. Americans are less economical. In what they make, in how they make it, and in how they use it. Instead, they value rapid resource aggregation and deployment in order to take advantage of opportunities. Patterns


In the U.S. an imperfect but quick decision is often preferred over a perfect but slow decision. Imperfect decisions can be corrected. For Americans speed is always of the essence. Patterns


Historically America has always had generous margins or error: resource-rich, protected by two oceans, two neighbors posing no threat. Mistakes were seldom costly. Risk-taking often paid off. Americans take risks. Patterns


Strategy and Tactics

Americans﹣those leading as well as those being led﹣prefer specifically formulated, command oriented tasks. The command addresses both the what, and to some degree the how. Overall responsibility for the how is shared by both levels. Patterns

Strategy Formulation

Americans believe that important decisions should be made by the team lead. Ideally with input from key members of the team. Once made, those decisions are best implemented when communicated and understood by the entire team. Patterns

Strategy Modification

The line between those who make decisions and are responsible for their outcomes, and those who carry out those decisions, is drawn very distinctly in the American context. Decisions which cannot work or would damage overall efforts are communicated up the chain of command by those working on the tactical level. There is very low tolerance for modifying decisions. Patterns

Lines of Communication

Because Americans﹣those leading as well as those being led﹣prefer specific, command oriented tasks (both what and how), it follows that team leads will maintain shorter lines of communication with their team members: more interaction, more frequent status meetings, more iterations on tactical issues. Patterns



Americans link the personal with the professional. Feedback addresses primarily performance, but takes into consideration how it will be received. Feedback on one’s work is feedback on that individual. It is by its very nature personal. Patterns


Americans see themselves as positive thinkers, motivators, self-motivators. It is a sign of leadership to seek out reasons to praise. In fact, praise is most instrumental when an individual or entire team is struggling, experiencing defeat and self-doubt. Patterns


Americans focus less on reducing errors, more on reinforcing what leads to good results. When giving feedback Americans concentrate on strengths. Critique is communicated in a carefully worded way. Patterns


Sensitive feedback discussions in the U.S. business context are almost always done in one-to-one talks. Discretion is highly important, especially when the feedback is negative. There is very low tolerance for open criticism of colleagues in the presence of the team. Patterns


Feedback scores are most effective when they are accurate and realistic enough, but also motivating. When in doubt, Americans are inflationary. The school grading system is: A is excellent; B is very good; C is good; D is unsatisfactory; F is failure. Patterns



For Americans conflicts of interest are a fact of life. Escalation is often not only necessary, the individual has a fundamental right to seek resolution, to “have his day in court.” Patterns


Americans expect a hearing. The conflict parties, in the presence of each other, make their case. Self-defense is only possible when one knows what the other side is accusing them of. Patterns


When resolving a conflict American managers see themselves more as judge than mediator. They considers both objective facts and subjective witness testimony. Patterns


Americans become impatient if too much time is required to resolve a conflict. Festering conflicts are disruptive for any team. A suboptimal, yet prompt resolution, is often better than an optimal, but late one. Patterns


In the U.S. a true and lasting resolution is attainable only when a clear decision is made. Americans don’t have of a problem with one party winning and the other losing. “You win some, you lose some.” Patterns



The USA remains one of the resource-richest countries in the world. Although efficiency is among the key characteristics of any product, output almost always outweighs efficiency. Patterns


For Americans products are tools. An intelligent product makes work and life easier. It expands possibilities. Intelligent products execute the commands of the user. No more. No less. Patterns


Americans expect a product to function well under adverse conditions. If it has problems, the supplier provides service, at minimum additional cost and inconvenience. Patterns


For Americans durability is relative. Products don’t last forever. Change, on the other hand, is constant. Products must adapt to the changing needs of customers. Americans value durability, but within a shorter time frame. Patterns


For Americans quality is just one of several product characteristics. And it is always a function of price. In fact, in the U.S. market it’s all about value, about the relation of quality to price. Patterns


Success Factor

If surveyed few Americans would mention processes as critical to success. Instead they would state customer orientation, innovation, rapid reaction time, and pricing. Concrete results are more relevant than how they were achieved. Patterns

Deductive vs. Inductive

Inductive thinking is inference. It is a generalized conclusion based on particular instances. American processes and procedures are arrived at more inductively, based on experience, which provides guidance on how to do the work. Patterns

Guaranty vs. Tool

For Americans processes are tools, a means to an end. Processes enable people to organize their work and their interaction. Processes cannot and should not replace human judgment. Patterns

Discipline vs. Deviation

Americans seek that fine line between process discipline and flexibility. The moment a process step makes unnecessary demands Americans will deviate. Judgement calls are made via internal communication within the team and with next level management. Patterns

Process as Power

Because Americans are less inclined to view processes and procedures as making up the manual governing the inner workings of a company, the writing of those rules is rarely the forum where battles over power and influence take place. Patterns


Consult vs. Serve

Americans do not make a clear distinction between serving and consulting. They go hand-in-hand. They are two sides of the same coin. Consulting is a service to the customer.

Serving should include bringing into play ones subject matter expertise. However, an American consultant, supplier, vendor, seldom sees themselves at eye-level with the customer. The customer is always in charge. Patterns


Collaboration in the American business context is defined first und foremostly by the customer. They not only define what they want, but also to a significant extent how they want it. Patterns


The American customer expects the supplier to deliver a product or service as defined by the customer. The customer expects the supplier to orient himself fully towards their individual needs and to respond as quickly as possible. And the supplier is expected to adapt to any change in scope. Patterns