Americans at Work: A Cultural Guide to the Can-Do People

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Overview

Restless and driven, casual and direct-Americans are a challenge! Learn how Americans behave at work and how to deal with them. Whether you work with Americans face-to-face, communicate with them by telephone or e-mail or interact together in a virtual team, Americans at Work: A Guide to the Can-Do People reveals the subtle and the not-so-subtle aspects of American culture in the workplace. Best-selling author Craig Storti provides historical perspectives and explanations of the six most important American cultural themes and their relevance to the workplace: Land of Opportunity (a driven people), Go-for-It Mentality (ready, aim, fire: new is better), Equality for All (but don't forget who's boss), The Drive to Achieve (nice guys finish last), Live and Let Live (do your own thing) and Time Matters (obsession with efficiency). Learn about straight talk-American style-and how Americans aren't always as direct as they say they are. Find out why Americans are deeply conflicted about power: they crave it but hate to be caught craving it. See how Americans view outsiders. Gain tips for succeeding in the American environment. Finally, get the basics of work-related etiquette: conducting meetings, giving feedback, nonverbal communication, e-mail rules, gifts, taboo topics and so on. Knowing how Americans work with each other will help you predict their reactions and, more important, their expectations of you. And if you are American, you will better understand your own behavior and be able to work more effectively with colleagues from other cultures. Americans at Work is an interesting book examining the behavioral norms and perceptions of the American workplace from dual perspectives: Americans of others and vice versa. Whilst Americans at Work targets a non-American audience seeking to better understand the idiosyncrasies of the American workplace, it also provides Americans with a revealing 'big picture' view that may help them work more effectively with people from other cultures. The book is well suited for readers across a wide spectrum of interests from business, communications, linguistics, and sociology to foreign travel. The information is presented in an easily accessible manner, containing rich descriptions and examples punctuated by relevant quotations from notable authors. A bibliography is provided to help readers interested in furthering their exploration of 'can-do people.' The overreaching goal of Americans at Work is to help readers work more effectively with people from the USA..This information will help readers acquire a better understanding of white-collar American workers in general. More importantly, Storti posits, it will change 'how you see the world.'-Judy Bullock, University of PhoenixWith its clear language and its emphasis on highly practical workplace issues, Americans at Work is a useful addition to the intercultural canon, in that anyone can pick it up and read it on their way to work (or even on the plane bound to the United States). In addition, it will almost certainly be of interest to any American who would like to discover more about how their own culture and behavior are percieved by their non-American counterparts.-Robert Johnson, www.dialogin.com ContentsAcknowledgmentsIntroductionPart 1: The Big Pictures1 Americans and Foreigners2 The Land of Opportunity3 The Can-Do People4 Equality for All5 You Are What You've Done6 On Your Own7 Time Matters8 Communication, American Style9 Bosses and SubordinatesPart 2: The DetailsEpilogueBibliographyIndexAbout the Author
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Editorial Reviews

Soundview Executive Book Summaries
A Guide to the Can-Do, Go-for-It People
Writing a book describing a group of people as diverse as Americans in general terms is an intimidating task indeed. But doing so while providing guidance to those from as broad an audience as the rest of the world can make the task even more difficult. To tackle this complex undertaking, Craig Storti has tapped the skills he has developed in his international communication training and consulting firm. These vast skills have allowed him to produce a guidebook that aims to help non-Americans understand those from the United States with whom they work, as well as help Americans understand how they might be viewed by people from other cultures.

Intended more for white-collar managers than their blue-collar underlings, Americans at Work provides cultural observations about office people who "work at desks, usually in front of a computer, go to lots of meetings, and almost never sweat." Storti acknowledges that there are many different types of workplaces and people throughout the United States, but writes that he focuses primarily on the dominant American culture that has grown from the assumptions, beliefs and values originally derived from the early European settlers in the United States and later amended by their experiences during the first two centuries of American history.

All Art and Very Little Science
Storti notes that his generalizations are bound to oversimplify, and that predicting human behavior is almost all art and very little science. But he explains that his goal is to provide useful generalizations of Americans at work and, despite the problems inherent in doing so, take the guesswork and surprise out of interacting with them. By providing details that help readers anticipate how Americans will feel about or respond to certain ideas or actions, and describing how Americans expect others to respond or act, Storti shows readers how they can find ways to act that will improve their chances of getting the response they want.

After giving readers a big-picture view of Americans (those from the United States and not its neighbors to the north and south who could also be considered "Americans"), Storti examines six fundamental American values that he believes account for many common workplace attitudes and behaviors. After he describes each, he explains how it shows up in the workplace and influences how Americans think and behave. Covering topics that range from efficiency to favoritism, and from directness to indirectly saying no, Storti describes the basics of workplace relationships and the do's and don'ts of life on the job.

The six most important American cultural themes that Storti details in Americans at Work include the following ideas as well as these tips for how to work with those who embody them:

  • "The Land of Opportunity." Try to sound positive. Being merely realistic or objective may get you branded as a pessimist. Try to act excited about taking risks. Never suggest giving up.
  • "The Can-Do People." Don't be too afraid of trial and error. Americans admire trying almost as much as succeeding. Be careful about too much analysis or planning. Don't expect Americans to be impressed by tradition.


Don't Play Favorites

  • "Equality for All." If you're a boss, don't play favorites, obviously treating some subordinates better than others. Try to judge everyone by the same standards, which should be as objective and transparent as possible (such as results or performance).
  • "You Are What You've Done." Clear away obstructions that keep people from getting things done, such as elaborate procedures, a long chain of command, or excessive testing. Never act complacent or satisfied. You can always do better.
  • "On Your Own." As a boss, sketch out the big picture and then let subordinates "do their own thing." Give instructions and guidance, and then disappear. Don't expect corporate loyalty from American workers, and don't interpret being challenged as a sign of disrespect.
  • "Time Matters." Be on time for appointments and meetings, so you don't waste other people's time or throw them off their schedule. Get to the point quickly in a conversation, meeting or presentation.


The rest of Americans at Work provides guidance for better communication, working with subordinates, and the proper etiquette to use in the office.

Why We Like This Book
Storti's clear generalizations about American businesspeople are both telling and accurate. Not only are they informative, but his suggestions to help others deal with those American traits offer helpful guidance to those unfamiliar with the American workplace, and a refresher course for those who wonder why those from other cultures respond to their idiosyncrasies in the ways they do. Copyright © 2005 Soundview Executive Book Summaries

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781931930055
  • Publisher: Nicholas Brealey Publishing
  • Publication date: 6/28/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 216
  • Sales rank: 822,051
  • Product dimensions: 6.17 (w) x 9.11 (h) x 0.49 (d)

Meet the Author

Criag Storti is founder and director of Communicating Across Cultures, a Washington DC-based intercultural communication training and consulting firm. With work appearing in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Chicago Tribune, he is the author of six books, he is the author of six books, including Speaking of India: Bridging the Communication Gap When Working with Indians and the bestselling Cross-Cultural Dialogues, The Art of Crossing Cultures, and The Art of Coming Home. After living nearly a quarter of his life abroad, he now lives in Maryland. For more information, please visit his website: www.craigstorti.com.
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Table of Contents

Pt. 1 The big picture 11
Ch. 1 Americans and foreigners 13
Ch. 2 The land of opportunity 19
Ch. 3 The can-do people 33
Ch. 4 Equality for all 51
Ch. 5 You are what you've done 63
Ch. 6 On your own 79
Ch. 7 Time matters 87
Ch. 8 Communication, American style 97
Ch. 9 Of Bosses and subordinates 125
Pt. 2 The details 143
Workplace relationships 146
Personal and professional 149
Women in the workplace 151
Sexual harassment 153
Meetings 155
Presentations 158
E-mail etiquette 161
Telephone etiquette 164
Giving feedback 168
Training 170
Nonverbal communication 171
Greetings and leave-takings 176
Dress 178
Gifts 179
Taboo topics 180
Going to lunch 182
Smoking 183
A guest in the home 184
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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2004

    Highly Recommended!

    In a global economy, you inevitably will work with people from other cultures. But since culture determines behavior, how can people from outside the United States best adapt to working in the American workplace? And, how do they perceive American workplace behavior? Author Craig Storti examines American culture and extracts six key themes that drive the U.S. workplace. In the process, he teaches his fellow Americans about their unexamined workplace behavior. That's refreshing. Looking at yourself from the outside helps you re-examine how you work with others. The process opens doors to a whole new evaluation process that could revitalize many businesses. Unfortunately, while Storti makes interesting cultural points, his book is repetitive and belabors obvious ideas. His practical advice on such topics as table manners, fashion, gift giving, eye contact, touching and even sending e-mail is valuable, but could have been presented better in succinct bullet point summaries. However, we appreciate his introduction to behavior, manners and morés in the cross-cultural workplace.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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