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American Business Culture: Formal vs. Informal

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In most modern American offices, the successful people are those who know how to be formal in their work performance while appearing to be informal on a social level. Degrees of this vary based on your profession. Overall, you want to wear clothes that appear well-groomed without seeming like you put effort into it. Your speech is the same. You want to use natural speech--let words flow together, use some idioms--at the same time, be quite aware of what you are choosing to express.

Companies know that an employee is most expensive during the first three months. This is the time when other employees are using their energy to train the new person, and the manager is exerting energy to understand the new person. For these reasons, companies prefer to avoid employee turn-over. This leads to a work environment which has the appearance of informality: the place appears welcoming to new recruits. As an employee, you too have to play into the environment. Keep your appearance and speech "informally formal." In other words, appear to be informal socially while remaining formal and goal-directed in your actual work performance.

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