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Cultural differences between the US and Europe

The Holmes Report has an interesting insight into cultural differences between Europe and the USA. When I was more heavily involved in international PR one thing that always struck me when travelling to attend exhibitions or run press conferences was that Americans found it much more difficult to socialise and interact than Europeans.

You might have 10-20 different nationalities out for dinner or a drink and the US participants were nearly always the first to leave and struggled more to keep up with the banter and jokes, despite the fact that conversations were always in English which wasn’t the first language of most people.

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Stuart Bruce

International Public Relations Adviser | Trainer | Author | Media Commentator | Conference Speaker | University Lecturer | Online PR | Digital Corporate Communications | Crisis Communications | Digital Public Affairs

5 Comments

  1. Stuart, One of the first things I learned during my stint in DC was that people there are uptight about mixing booze with work. Friday lunch down the pub almost never happens and when it does, it's "diet cokes all round". It's kind of weird when you look at how cheap and freely available alcohol is in the US. To use an Americanism, I think "they have issues" with control and liability.

  2. Stuart – must admit that I haven't found that to be the case on the West Coast. Networking is an essential skill in the Valley. I've found my US co-workers to be more adept at mixing with people who they may not know than more reserved Brits for example. Go to a newtworking event in the UK and most people stick to the people they know – not the same here.

    That said, there is a different approach to socializing and attitudes to alcohol consumption with coworkers, particularly mid-week. Employers are expected to pay if it's a company event – even just drinks after work. Many people drive and so don't drink heavily. Many others organize several meet ups during an evening so move on, which is less common in the UK.

  3. Morgan, I take your points. I was more on about when you are on the road, such as staying in a hotel for a few days at an exhibition/expo such as Cebit, Telecom, Internet World etc. That's when I've noticed the difference. The norm amongst Europeans appears to be hit a bar, then a decent restaurant, then the hotel bar. Americans (in groups as individuals tend to go with the flow). Are more likely to skip the last stage.

    Sherrilynne, I also skip the alcohol at lunchtime – after work (especially in the situation above) it is different.

    One major plus is the bonding/camaradrie with clients. It makes it much easier for them to open up to you so you find stories/insights etc you would otherwise miss.

  4. Having worked in marketing and PR circles in Boston and London, I understand the comment. The well-lubricated world of London business isn't so common over here, but networking is still a fine art done well by most.

  5. Having worked in marketing and PR circles in Boston and London, I understand the comment. The well-lubricated world of London business isn't so common over here, but networking is still a fine art done well by most.

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