Being English and living in Jakarta I have often been asked what the difference is between British and American people. Of course there are many, and some of the old stereotypes may not necessarily be so accurate anymore.

Jakarta is a melting pot of expats and during my time here I have worked with many Americans. The following tips are generalities and will not be true of all businesses and certainly not all Americans, however they are a good guide to go by.

  • Americans are far stricter on time than many other nationalities, including Indonesian. When you enter an American-run meeting, expect to see an agenda with set times for topics, and if you are chairing the meeting it is expected that you adhere to the times. Punctuality is also a sign of respect.
  • Status is a lot less important than in other cultures. This is especially true when it comes to speaking up and being heard in a meeting. As long as it is a valid point and done politely, you can put forward your view whatever your position in the company may be. After all you have been invited to that meeting for a reason.
  • American culture is quite informal. What are the real differences here? Well, small talk matters! Expect a few minutes of small talk before getting down to business, it is both polite and builds longer-lasting relationships.

These are my top tips for meetings with Americans in my experience. Please share more if you have found differently.

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