If you are a consultant, sales, or service professional who work with Americans, you probably want to build strong relationships with customers, clients and colleagues. When you come from a different culture than your client, your attitudes or behaviors could create unnecessary friction that can limit your ability to make a good impression that you need to earn customer satisfaction and high project ratings.

When contacting, meeting, selling or serving to Americans from another culture, it’s important to tune your attitudes and behaviors to how your customers, clients or colleagues behave. If you pay attention, you can learn how to navigate cultural differences and unspoken expectations that can smooth out friction and increase customer satisfaction. And I’m sure you can understand that higher customer satisfaction can potentially earn you a faster promotion or higher pay hike.

If you missed them, you can get up to speed by reviewing my blogs about cultural differences:

  • How culture sensitivity can improve Indian job qualifications to work with Americans
  • Key US-India Culture Differences that can Impact Your Ability to Qualify for an American Client-Facing Role

CMD Framework to Command your Career

Here’s a few tips on how to tailor your communication, meeting management and documentation (which I call the CMD framework, to help you Command your Career).

Unless you have learned how Americans do business, Americans will likely have issues with you. And, most of these issues will center around time, communication style, social status, and your approach to information sharing. Let’s explore how these issues can impact your relationship with your American client or employer.

  • Communication - If you don’t communicate like an American, it will take your client more time to review your work, edit, and coach you on a presentation. Your colleague, boss or client won’t want to embarrass you or themselves, by putting you in front of an executive or client until you are properly coached - which will take more time than if they were coaching a native born American.

A few key issues around communication include:

  • Context - explain more background on WHY something is important, and skip the how you got there
  • Direct style - say what you mean and don’t leave details open for interpretation
  • Words and phrases - switch to American versions of key phrases to avoid confusion
  • Formatting and design - design and format information as Americans expect
  • Meeting Management - If you don’t know how to engage in phone or face-to-face meetings, it will take a lot more time for your boss or colleagues, or even your client, to prepare you to run a meeting. You will need to write out a script, edit, rehearse, and edit more - and then your internal or client coach will want to do a test run to see where you need further coaching. Again, all that takes more time than it would if you were a native born American.

A few key issues around meeting management include:

  • Time sensitivity - plan ahead to be on time, every time
  • Managing invites - ensure everyone understands why they are meeting
  • Managing in-person and phone meetings - run effective meetings to drive results
  • Hosting clients - offer the expected food and beverages at the right times
  • Follow up - deliver on promises met to increase satisfaction
  • Documentation - If you don’t know what is expected in taking notes, running a project, or providing proper documentation and follow ups that Americans expect, you could embarrass your boss or colleague or client. And worse than embarrassment, if you fail to document discussions, actions or follow ups, you could create unnecessary delays or even deliver the wrong thing. If you do that a few times, you could get a very poor project and performance rating and lose your job.

A few key issues around documentation include:

  • Meeting agenda - provide the written roadmap for who, what, when
  • Meeting materials - provide information needed to streamline decisions
  • Internal documentation - share all key discussion points, actions and agreements
  • External documentation - share key agreements and action plan

Take control of your success and command career by learning the basic business protocols used by Americans. Check out my other blogs:

  • How culture sensitivity can improve Indian job qualifications to work with Americans
  • Key US-India Culture Differences that can Impact Your Ability to Qualify for an American Client-Facing Role
  • How to demonstrate you are a ‘Professional’ to Americans
  • Strategies to Land a Job with Americans

Happy job hunting!

Careen Foster is the owner and educator at American Business Basics who provides online courses to help Indian professionals learn how to effectively work with Americans. You can also follow me on Facebook at American Business Basics.