Monday, July 31, 2017


Just as in your country, communication patterns will vary from place to place. The words Americans use, their pronunciation, gestures and level of politeness, along with how loudly and fast they speak, can be daunting as you engage with people from different parts of America.

As you would imagine, urban centers –with larger, more mobile populations and cutting edge, competitive enterprises—are always the most vibrant, energetic centers of a nation. Still, cities fall along a continuum from:
Group One, greatest in intensity - the most populated, “electric” urban areas on the East and West Coasts (New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, Boston, etc.); to

Group Two, of still strong but more controlled intensity - the most populous, dynamic regional centers throughout the country (Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta Denver, etc.); and

Group Three, milder in tone and style - the American South and the quieter cities in vast rural regions (Charleston, SC; Birmingham, AL; Phoenix, AZ; Oklahoma City, OK; Kansas City, MO; Salt Lake City, UT; to name a few).
In the largest urban centers –particularly New York and throughout the Northeast, but also the largest West Coast cities—people talk the loudest, the fastest and most expressively. They gesture most emphatically. They interrupt most often, excuse themselves least often, and are direct when expressing opinions.

At the opposite end of the spectrum lies the American South, and after that the quieter cities in rural regions. In the American South they exhibit genteel politeness and picturesque regional expressions; while in the other regions in this category they speak with few words, wait their turn to talk, are considerate of others, and generally speak more slowly.

In the middle category, consisting of major regional centers and the cities of Canada—communication lies somewhere between the two extremes. People are friendly, open and talkative, and use small talk generously. They smile more, use accommodating gestures (head tilts, open hands, easy eye contact), but they are not as solicitous as in the super-genteel areas of the American South.

With greater mobility and global exposure, regional patterns are fading. Still, an awareness of these longstanding patterns offers a chance to observe America’s homegrown diversity.