Etiquette in the United States

The United States of America, also referred to as America, the US or USA, is home to almost 315 million people.

English is the official language, although many other languages are spoken throughout the country. Spanish is the second most commonly used language.

The United States is the world’s oldest surviving federation. It is a constitutional republic and representative democracy. The government is regulated by a system of checks and balances defined by the U.S. Constitution.

Many religions are present, as religious freedom is a constitutional right and there is no official state religion. Over 78% of Americans are reported as followers of Christian faith, with 16% claiming no religion, atheism or agnostic.

The U.S. dollar is the currency used.

General Etiquette

Punctuality is valued and emphasized, especially in business situations. Traffic in metropolitan areas can cause significant delays, so be sure to call if you are delayed for a business meeting or a meal. It is ok to arrive a few minutes to 30 minutes late for a cocktail party.

Business in the U.S. is often conducted over a meal, most frequently lunch, although breakfast meetings are also common.

Handshakes are used for greetings in business situations. Use a firm handshake, as a weak handshake is taken as a sign of weakness. In casual situations, people may shake hands, but a smile and verbal greeting is also acceptable.

Americans will often greet each other with the phrase, “How are you?” This is not usually an inquiry into your health or well-being and the most appropriate response is short, such as “Fine, thank you.” In an initial social meeting you may also be asked “What do you do?”, inquiring what you do for your job. This is not considered rude or too personal.