Skip to Main Content

Communication with Americans

Directness

Americans prefer to talk in a direct, clear, and concise way. Remembering that wasting time is not seen as a good thing, Americans do not like to waste time communicating either. Direct communication is very important in the United States as it is viewed as very time-efficient to say exactly what you mean.

Americans are also very direct in their responses to questions. They are not cautious or reserved about their intentions. Americans are clear when they mean no. Sometimes, it will come with an explanation as to why, but with Americans you can be assured that no means no and yes means yes. Americans are not reserved about saying no or yes. They will be very clear about intentions and feelings.

This directness can be off-putting to some who are familiar with a more indirect means of communication. However, because of the importance of time, Americans will expect their directness to be appreciate and well-received. They will except the same of others with whom they are communicating.

In the classroom:

In the classroom, Americans tend to want to inquire about information through asking direct questions. Being inquisitive and even critical of the material presented is a norm in the American higher-education classroom. If the information presented by the instructor is not clear, it is the responsibility of the student to clarify. The same can be said for syllabi, deadlines, assignments, and instructions. They can also be clarified by scheduling an appointment with your advisor or visiting them during their walk-in hours. Americans are taught the only stupid question is a question that is not asked. By asking questions, you’re showing the instructor that you’re interested in the content and that you’re paying attention. Asking questions is encouraged and expected in the American classroom.

Hi! How are you?

Americans tend to use this greetings as a default way of responding to “hello”. This phrase can be very complicated to those from other cultures because once asked it seems as if the American does not really have any interested in how you really are. You should observe other Americans with this exchange. Sometimes the question “How are you?” is not even acknowledged. This is just a way that Americans say hello. If someone does not seem to really care how you are, it is not a personal insult. Perhaps that American has never had anyone answer the question in a meaningful way before.