The US vs Europe: Cultural Differences

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I recently gave a private training which included an overview of cultural differences. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

I moved to the US from Russia in 1991, having received a three-month contract as a Mac Developer at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco. They converted it to a full-time position midway and helped me obtain a Green Card, at which point I could leave.

It was my first trip abroad, and I had no clue about the American language and culture. But it was quite a soft landing: the staff were friendly and accommodating. My first boss was entertained by my exotic background and was teaching me about the culture. He has even gone through a comic book with me explaining why this was funny.

Later on, I took a helpful Berkeley Extension course on business behavior.

I live in a very diverse area. One of my software teams had an Indian, a Chinese, a Bulgarian, and a German (who could drink 12 bottles of beer). One of my son’s schools had 12% white kids.

In Russia, my environment was Math students and professors, about a hundred people who knew each other. Here, I was exposed to “everybody.”

I am still fascinated by cultural differences and feel better chemistry with my European friends and colleagues than Americans.

I wholeheartedly recommend the book The Culture Map – by Erin Meyer – it covers differences between cultures in business.

I recommend as an informative resource for relocation between countries.

Here are some “starter” cultural differences.

  • The US is all about success – education, career, family, owning a house.
  • English has different spelling and meaning in the US and the UK – Google it.
  • Americans love expression from baseball, American Football, and basketball in business
    • To keep the ball rolling
    • To drop the ball
    • To stay ahead of the game
    • To call the shots (etc.).
  • Americans call March 14 the Pi Day (3-14).
  • Reddit, Discord, and Slack are popular but not Telegram or WhatsApp.
  • It is OK to use Facebook Messenger work-related – not so in Western Europe.
  • Americans go overboard about Diversity– take a look at It is no longer OK to write “he or she,” “men and women,” “Grandfathered in,” “Blacklist,” or “white-hat hacker.”
  • We do not have GDPR.
  • The most expensive real estate is in San Francisco and New York.
  • Americans write “Hi <name>,” Europeans, “Dear Ms./Mr. <lastname>.”
  • Americans drive everywhere, and restaurant portions are enormous; being overweight is a national problem.

What can you add to this?

We are planning a live webinar soon.

Comments 4

  1. Americans or Canadians for that matter, when they need to sell a house, they need to get out of their own house, and allow a buyer’s real estate agent and the prospective buyer to see the house at their own pace.

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