Business in the USA: Think big!

This can be seen, for example, in project planning. In the USA, at first a major goal is formulated. Then people sit down and think about how this goal can be achieved. A detailed planning of individual steps is usually not provided. US-Americans don’t look at too many details and also don’t define subgoals to be achieved one after another. They prefer to start working straight away and to react to problems in a flexible and creative manner whenever they might arise. To simply follow a vision is rarely considered as being too risky or too dangerous. US-Americans don’t waste much time on taking precautions in case of any worst case scenarios. Think big and go for it!

Think big when picking your words

In US-American Business English you won’t hear the word “problem”. Instead, US-Americans rise to the “challenge”! While many international managers might want to express their major concerns in the first place, US-Americans will rather talk about “a couple of issues” or “slight concerns”. That’s all. They’ll always focus on the vision and never on some obstacles to overcome on the way to the goal. Think big!

In the same manner US-Americans tend to express approval much more energetic than many other people around the world would ever do. Expressions like “very nice” or “very good” are often too weak. A result that is only “good” doesn’t catch anybody’s attention. US-Americans will always show enthusiasm if they really like something. That’s why you need to pay attention how different nuances in language are used. If something is “good” that might mean for an US-American no more than mediocrity. If something is declared as being “very good” that might still be far away from being praised. Thus, if you find something really good, in front of an US-American you must at least say “That’s great!” Use strong adjectives and talk about “brilliant achievements”, “a fabulous outcome”, “an outstanding teamwork”, “an excellent report” or “fantastic results”. Think big!

Business people from abroad often think they are exaggerating when using those stronger expressions. Keep in mind that in the USA a low-key, more factual oriented language will be seen as rather impolite. The same applies to pure honesty. Before saying what you are really thinking or trying to criticise an US-American’s vision because you might have found some weak points in the project plan, first mention as many positive things as possible. Only then you could very carefully raise your concerns. Make sure that your final conclusion is always positive. The idea is not only to think big but also to always think positive!

Think big in advertising

The US-American way of thinking and talking can also be spotted in advertising. In general, US-American advertising campaigns are build around very expressive statements and pictures. Loud colours, utopian promises are underpinned with patriotism and pride. Money and consumption are highly regarded in the USA. There is nothing wrong with showing off what you have got. Quite the contrary, the richness of others reminds many US-Americans of the fact that they can make it, too. Think big!

Think big, work hard!

Appreciation and praise are motivating factors to realise a personal vision. Therefore, in US-American businesses a high level of commitment by employees is achieved not only through financial incentives but also through the prospect to get the next promotion.

Supervisors are expected to motivate their team members to perform to the best of their ability. Errors are being tolerated as long as one is learning from one’s mistakes. In the country of opportunity people believe that in principle anyone can excel in any job. Ambitious goals are a fundamental prerequisite to outgrow oneself. And for sure there is no lack of role models. US-American business heroes like Henry Ford or Mark Zuckerberg are inspiring for everybody: Thing big, work hard!

There are steep hierarchies in US-American companies. Someone who made it to the top is quite powerful with an relatively unrestricted authority to decide. Opinions on lower management levels might be gathered, but US-American top managers won’t seek a consensus.

Ultimately, the visionary leaders are the ones who climb up to the top of US-American companies to set the tone. What accompanied them on their long way up is their one and only mantra: Thing big!

Katrin Koll Prakoonwit

+49 (0)711 722 468 44
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