Business Talk The American Way


Each country has got its own way of communicating, especially in business speaking. Thus, it is essential to be aware of the nuances for successful negotiations or exchange of ideas, especially in the United States that continues to play a major role among world economies.

According to Anett Grant, president of Executive Speaking, Inc., who has been coaching top executives and emerging leaders for more than 36 years, Americans tend to be direct in their business speak. They prefer to come directly to the point without any lengthy introductions.

Also the conclusions are presented at the very outset and then backed up by facts, research, background, analysis and arguments. Anthropologist Edward Hall puts this particular trait to differences in “high context” and “low context” cultures. Straightforward and direct communication is preferred by low context cultures.

High context cultures tend to adopt a more elaborate approach of communication by elaborating on the context and background details before coming out with the conclusions. In this category comes countries like France and Japan.

Interestingly, Americans tend to use more visual imagery in their speech than the straightforward if not cerebral expressions used by other cultures.

Grant illustrates this point with a meeting between US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the U.N. General Assembly. While the speech content was similar, the approach varied greatly.

Putin said, “In 1945, the countries that defeated Nazism joined their efforts to lay solid foundations for the postwar world order.” Obama, said, “Out of the ashes of the Second World War, having witnessed the unthinkable power of the atomic age, the United States has worked with many nations in this Assembly to prevent a third world war.”

Use of such dramatic visual language no longer remains confined to political speech. It is becoming more prevalent in the business sector. As videoconferencing, social media, and remote teams become more prevalent, visual language has become necessary to keep people engaged.

The simple vocabulary used by Americans also is effective in communicating ideas.

They also use a flat sound pattern unlike those belonging to people from India, China and UK who frequently change the pitch from low to high to low. Americans tend to stretch out vowels horizontally as they see changing pitch as ‘sing song’, distracting, artificial and not projecting confidence.

In an increasingly interconnected world, this type of directness is becoming the norm globally, not just in the US, she says. (Image Courtesy :


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