Common Etiquette in the US

One of the preparations travelers generally overlook is obtaining knowledge of etiquette of the visiting country. While it is always better to know and understand about the culture of the planned destination, it also adds to ones’ general knowledge. And when the nation is as big and diverse as the United States of America, being familiar with the culture, social, and other etiquette becomes important, especially for the people from the Middle East countries. For the frank nature and open mindedness of Americans may overwhelm them.  If you are a citizen of the UAE and are planning to visit America for tourism or any other reasons, you must know these common etiquette in the US.

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Greeting

Addressing a known person formally or informally, depending on your closeness, is a common rule followed globally.  But never anywhere else in the world can you find an exchange of greeting with a stranger than in the U.S.  You will be surprise to see that the Americans greet even strangers when walking on the street, in an elevator, queue, or in a public or private building. However, they greet only when they have an eye contact with someone. The most common way to greet a person in this amazing country is “How are you doing” when meeting after a gap of time. You have to utter this phrase with a gentle smile on your face.  If you are greeting this way, you must acknowledge it by saying “Fine! Thank you.” Or just nod your head and say “Hi” with a smile.

How Americans start a conversation

Americans do not need a reason to speak to people. They have this inherent quality to befriend anyone in just first meeting. They can strike a conversation with anyone and anywhere at will. Being friendly, and talkative in nature, they keep innovating new styles of greeting people and striking a conversation. Many of their styles are copied and followed by other people. The most heard and used phrases are “Hey! Whats up?, and “Whats up man?.” These informal ways of greeting are mostly used by young people. If speaking in a formal way, the Americans use “Hi! What’s going on?,” “How is life going with you?,” and “What’s special in your life?.”

Body language

It is customary to shake hands when you meet someone and is an accepted behavior to use it for both men and women. If you are close to the person, whether a man or a woman, you may hug her or him. However, it is should be gentle and decent and without any innuendo. The hug should be lighter by just throwing your arm around her back, and touching your head slightly with her. Remember, hugging and shaking hands are gestures to be used when meeting known people only. You cannot hug a woman whom you are meeting for the first time. Furthermore, when talking to an American, it is necessary to maintain a distance of two-feet between you and the person who you are talking to.

Addressing people

There are certain etiquette to be followed when addressing people regardless of their age and gender. You cannot call or address to someone you are meeting for the first time with his or her first name. Generally, first name is used to address people you are close or known for months and years. The accepted custom is to address a person by his or her second name. Using prefix like “Mr.” and “Mrs.” Is also necessary. However, if the person is comfortable to be called by his or her first name and asks you son, you may use the first name.

Informing a friend about your visit in advance

You cannot just drop in at anyone’s home unannounced, not even your friend. It is possible that the person you are visiting has some other plan or have arranged for an outing, or a family get-together. Finding you standing at their doorstep may annoy the person, though he or she will not let show it or get it reflected on the face. Therefore, whenever you are planning to visit your friend, inform him or her a few days before. This will allow some time for your friend to make arrangement and be prepared for your visit.

Sneezing and coughing in public

Though sneezing relieves congestion in your nasal cavity and coughing in your respiratory, these common symptoms may annoy others. What are common among them is that they are impromptu and unstoppable. The good thing is that you get the urge a few microseconds ahead. If you are tempted to sneeze and cough, use your handkerchief to cover your nose and mouth. After you are done, you have to say “excuse me” whether somebody is listening or not.

Tipping etiquette

It is common in America to tip waiters after having a lunch or dinner at a restaurant. There is no standard or set rules on how much should be the tipping amount. However, if you like the service and the food, it is a good gesture to tip 15 to 20% of the total billed amount.

Expressing gratitude and apology

Whenever you receive any gift, you should express your gratitude by thanking the person. Another customary way of showing gratitude is through a written note or a thank-you note.  If you are too busy to write and drop the note, you may use the phone and say how happy you are to receive the present. Similarly, when any mistake is committed by you, you can apologize and say “sorry” for it. Sorry and thank you are the two words that are most commonly used by people in the U.S. You can use “sorry” not just for your wrong doing or behavior, but also when you hear your bad news from someone in this way, “I am sorry to hear about the sad demise of your father.”

There are several common etiquette for both formal and informal situations. If you want to enjoy your U.S. trip, you must learn and use them aptly. Many people embarrass themselves by using a wrong phrase at the wrong time. Hence, in order not to offend anyone, it is better to take a few tips from someone who knows a lot about the U.S. culture. Though the internet is the best source to learn them, there is no guarantee whether you will bump into the latest trends in practice.  The ideal way to prepare for the U.S. trip is to approach a US visa consultant in Dubai. This way, you can not only avail visa services, but also receive a few latest tips on common etiquette in the U.S.

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