Business habits of Americans that can shock immigrants
America is rightly perceived as a country of unlimited entrepreneurial opportunities. The famous phrase: “Nothing personal, only business” originated here, and this approach in many ways became the basis of American economic prosperity. However, many expatriates from the post-Soviet space may not be ready for the tough rules of doing business in the United States and American business practices that differ from our usual mentality.
I emphasize that this does not mean at all that the rules of doing business in the United States are tougher than in Russia or Ukraine. On the contrary, entrepreneurship in the post-Soviet space is often accompanied not only by fierce and unfair competition, but also by corruption, outright fraud and gangster clashes, which are practically not encountered in the United States. But America’s specificity lies in the fact that the “business approach” permeates here not only the relations of businessmen, but also ordinary labor relations, the fulfillment of private orders under a contract, etc. It is emigrants who have never considered themselves entrepreneurs and have become accustomed to being ordinary employees or contractors in their homeland, and who are most often not prepared to negotiate in an American way.
Let us single out only a few peculiarities of the American habits in the business sphere and in the work team, which can cause bewilderment and even rejection in “our people”.
1. Americans are used to bargaining rather unceremoniously
If you take a job or negotiate a one-time order in Russia or Ukraine, you usually don’t risk asking too much. Unreasonably high demands in the post-Soviet space can cause a sharply negative reaction, and you simply will not be dealt with. However, in the United States the situation is fundamentally different. Americans do not hesitate to ask a lot, as they are accustomed to, that any requirements can be the basis for future trading, as a result of which it will be possible to come to a compromise.
Moreover, if you try to explain at length to an American why you cannot agree to his unreasonable requests, he simply does not understand your refusal and decides that you are bargaining with him. I have repeatedly encountered cases when Americans, forgetting about the postulate of respect for personal boundaries inherent in their culture, persuaded them to accept their services with the obsession of street vendors. There is no need to be surprised that for an emigrant such behavior seemed quite unpardonable insolence.
Let's give a simple example. Some of my Ukrainian friends were looking for a person to fulfill a one-time paid order as part of a project they were developing. Having started to negotiate on this issue with one American, they were puzzled when a potential counterparty did not communicate his wishes about remuneration for a month, but instead demanded evidence of the commercial success of the project. When, finally, he was directly asked how important the prospects of the project are for a one-time paid transaction, he said that he sees himself as a business partner, and demands that he be paid interest on subsequent sales. Ukrainians were shocked, since no interest and partnership in this order were in principle discussed. The demands of the American seemed to them utter arrogance, and they reasonably refused his services.
However, the American did not accept the refusal and began to assure that they should work with him. The fact that representatives of Ukraine were perceived as arrogance, bordering on fraud, the American contractor perceived as a normal practice of negotiating and bidding.
Advice here can be given only one: be prepared for such a development of events and do not be afraid to bargain. If you really do not want to work with this person, you need to speak about it as clearly and concisely as possible. If there are no business relations yet, no documents have been signed, and no clear promises have been made, it is permissible to even ignore the messages of the failed counterparty. The more extensive your answer, the more tempting your American partner is to continue bidding.
The reverse advice is equally fair: do not be afraid to ask for a good salary when applying for a job. You, most likely, will not be refused at all, just give a little less than you ask. Those who are modest in the designation of their requests, most often, fall into a non-winning situation.
2. The obsession of Americans is manifested in an attempt to impose on you services that you do not need
Do not be surprised that if you show weakness and agree to accept such services, you will never be able to prove that this was not your initiative, and you yourself did not ask for anything of the kind. In this case, again, it should be denied as clearly as possible, without leaving the slightest loophole for the interlocutor to accuse you of interest.
3. Attempts to "dissolve" for free labor
In general, such a “layout” is traditionally considered to be inherent in the Russian mentality, but it is often found in the United States, especially when performing private contracts. This mechanism works quite simply: at first they promise you a huge and very profitable contract, informing you that the decision has actually been made, and you should expect the contract from day to day. Then, when nothing happens in the coming weeks, it is reported that some bureaucratic procedures interfere with the decision making, and therefore those people who allegedly promote your interests in the company need to perform new test tasks from you, or some information of practical importance. for the customer.
By the way, this scheme is very similar to the famous fraudulent reception in the style of “you won a car worth 100 thousand dollars, and you only need to send two thousand for customs clearance procedures”. However, even state-owned companies are not averse to this technique - in cases when they are looking for a contractor, not directly, but through an intermediary. The advice here is also very simple: do not settle for playing other people's dirty games and do not work for free. Demand the conclusion of the contract and do not be afraid to put forward their own conditions. In America, alas, the one who does not know how to bargain loses.
4. High level of competition
It is observed not only in relations between companies, as is the case in any country, but also in the workforce, and even in a team working on the implementation of one project and one task. This is especially true of large companies. In America, it is not customary to be friends with colleagues at work, and even a partner can often be perceived as a rival in the fight for promotion and some other service bonuses. This is important to keep in mind.
5. Habit to avoid direct conflict
On the one hand, this makes the working environment less toxic. On the other hand, sometimes it is much easier to find out the relationship directly and eliminate all misunderstandings at the very beginning. However, in the United States you are unlikely to openly point out your shortcomings. Most likely, you will continue to smile in the face, and at the same time they will inform you of your superiors. Immigrants, especially at first, find it difficult to understand how their American counterparts really relate to them, and what can be expected from them.
These features do not necessarily have to always occur, and in themselves are not fatal. However, it is better to be aware of them, so that, when confronted with them, we understand what is happening and what kind of reaction to such behavior the Americans themselves are waiting for.
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