Friday, May 21, 2004


to be American...and I'm not being facetious, because as a people we've got a lot to be proud of. I was reading through the same website for intercultural business and affairs that I referenced earlier and ran across the description of how credibility is established in the U.S.

I was really quite impressed when I read this because for the first time in a long time, I started to think of myself as an American and see many of the great points about our culture. Lately with all the bad press we've been receiving, it's been much easier to be embarrassed. Though people across the globe may see Americans as rude, loud, pushy precisely because they view the qualities describe above as being contrary or foreign to their own... and in light of what's been going on recently to put us once again in the ugly limelight, I think that we do need to think about our more positive points.

Yes, we do need to work on our manners, but I thought as I was reading this description. I am happy to be out-spoken, I am glad that confidence is a quality that we prize in people. That we value verbal communication. These are good things... not to say that what is valued by other cultures is worth any less.

I do think that many of the positive points listed above have their negative side, ie. how we rely on first impressions, and sometimes confidence and our need for it can become twisted into a billion dollar industries where women suck excess fat from their behinds or men feel that they need to stretch the crows feet from their eyes.
Credibility in the U.S. is based as much on how one projects oneself as on what one actually accomplishes. Of course, the results that a person achieves affect his/her credibility over the long term; however, relationships in the U.S. may be very short-term, so it is important to establish credibility quickly. The following are common ways that U.S. Americans try to establish credibility in business situations:

Project confidence. When meeting someone for the first time, smile and shake hands firmly and crisply. Maintain eye contact. Stand up straight, with shoulders back, but not stiffly. Speak with sufficient volume.

Speak up. People in the U.S. place a high value on verbal communication, and if you do not express your opinions, Americans will often assume that you don’t have any. Don’t always wait to be asked for your input – be assertive and articulate.

Let people know about your track record by making reference to your experience and expertise in appropriate contexts. Don’t go overboard – boasting and name-dropping are not appreciated – however, excessive humility is often interpreted as a sign of low self-esteem.

Take initiative. Americans respect those who have the ability to take independent action, without having to be told everything.

Treat people of every age, rank, and status with respect. Regardless of whether a person is a garbage collector, waitress, or CEO, Americans generally feel that everyone deserves to be treated equally. If you regularly treat people with disrespect, you yourself will not be respected - either by people of lower or higher status than you.

Building credibility and instilling confidence depends only partly on how you interact in face-to-face situations. It also depends on how you behave and communicate when working together via telephone, fax and email. Ultimately, a large part of your credibility will depend on whether you deliver results.


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