We’ve been going through business etiquette topics from running a great meeting to digital communications issues. Our team includes someone from Germany, several from the UK, and people who have spent significant time living abroad. Through our discussions it's clear the US is the most informal country. Where else would you assume from the start you can call someone from their first name from the beginning of the business relationship? We think nothing of addressing a new business contact, in our very first email, by their first name. In person introductions often don’t include last names. And being in California we’re probably the least formal of the informal! We see this in terms of interactions with others through to dress. It’s a rare occasion you see a suit and tie here outside of certain industries such as finance. We’re known for the turtleneck, hoodie wearing executives!
The discussion of formality was a good reminder to think carefully before addressing others, particularly our business contacts in other countries. We’ll be much more conscious of starting our communications with Mr, Ms, Herr and other appropriate terms in the future. The way we address associates in California or even the US is not the approach we should take when communicating with our colleagues in other countries.