Tag Archives: Tipping

Introducing the USA

The US is one of the countries that’s profiled in the Global Coach Center Academy within the course “Living and Working in the USA” In this post we interview one of the course’s co-trainers on some of the most interesting tidbits on the US.

Jennifer Kumar, cross-cultural coach, is the co-creator of two cross-cultural training programs: “Chasing the American Dream: From Take Off to Landing” a comprehensive pre-departure preparatory course for students planning to study in US and “Living and Working in USA” – an online multi-media cross-cultural course for those planning to live, work and study in America.

Global Coach Center Blog (GCC Blog):  What would be 1 to 3 tips you’d give to someone who is moving to the US?

Jennifer For short or long stays in United States of America, there are a few etiquette rules that will be helpful for a wide variety of situations. These tips have been selected based on some of the cross-cultural misunderstandings I have coached foreigners adjusting to American culture in.

  • Tipping

There are many service professionals in USA who require to be tipped. Not leaving a tip will be offensive and is rarely if ever done even by Americans. A 15% tip is given to wait staff at restaurants that serve you at your table, restaurant home delivery drivers, hairdressers, barbers and taxi drivers. If the service was exemplary, leave 20%, if it could have been better leave 10% and if it was horrible leave two cents (two pennies). This communicates you have not forgot to tip, but that the service was pathetic. Tips are calculated based on the total of the bill before tax is added. Check your bill as some restaurants add in gratuity. In such cases, additional tips can be left if the service was exceptional. For other service professionals like bell hops, coat check attendants and valet parking attendants ask your trusted American friend as this can vary from place to place.

  • Greetings

Generally, when passing strangers on the street, someone will smile and ask “How are you?” Greetings may be more common in smaller towns than big cities. Americans do not expect long answers to this. An answer of “Fine, and you?” suffices. Don’t forget to smile. It will put Americans at ease. Some Americans feel uncomfortable if a greeting is without a smile and may ask, “Is everything alright?” If this happens, one can answer, trying to smile, “Yes, I am thinking about what I have to do today. I hope I can finish it all!” Attaching such an answer to work, Americans will understand the upset or stressed look on your face and generally will not ask more probing questions.

  • Eating Out

If your American friends or coworkers ask you to join them for lunch or dinner, assume you will pay your own bill. This is called ‘going Dutch,’ and is quite common. Unless the person inviting you insists on paying (even after you politely refuse and attempt to pay for yourself); you will pay for yourself and your own tips. Expecting your American colleague to pay for you may make them think you like them romantically; especially if you are the opposite sex; which must be avoided at all costs, especially if the person asking you to join is your coworker.

These three tips can be encountered any day whether an expat worker, international student or trailing spouse trying to fit in and socialize in American culture. If you’d like to learn more about American professional, on-the-job etiquette, social and cultural etiquette look into the course “Living and Working in USA”; a multimedia cross-cultural training with video, podcasts, worksheets and self-introspective activities. This course is designed to expose you to various elements of American culture and compare your cultural traits to those of Americans to understand how you will be able to fit in and make the best impression.

 

 

 

A to Z of Successful Expatriation™: A is for ATTENTION

How many kisses make a greeting? Who gets to sit and who gets to stand in public transport? What is a proper way to thank someone?

Sure, you can find answers to these and other questions through reading about a country and taking a cross-cultural training.  But you can also find all this and more through simply paying ATTENTION to what’s happening around you.

We start our A to Z of Successful Expatriation™ with a basic tip that can be useful anywhere, anytime.   You don’t even have to be an expat to benefit from it.  Paying ATTENTION to what happens around you, observing it, and learning from it is an excellent way to get information about the culture you are living in.

What have you learned in the past by simply paying attention?

And what can you learn this week?

Any other “A’s” you can suggest?

People who read this post also enjoyed:

Cross-Cultural Misunderstandings… Got One?

Three Reasons to Become an Expatriate

Different Colors of Money

Copyright © 2010 by Global Coach Center.

If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with an active link)!

To tip or not to tip…is that a cultural question?

A couple of weeks back I left a 36% tip at a restaurant.  Not intentionally.  I just didn’t notice they had already included an 18%  tip and I added my 18% to that.  I only noticed my mistake several days later when going through the receipts.  Sigh.

That was a lesson for me.  And not only in reading paperwork before I sign it, but also in cultural habits and cultural conditioning.  Now that I once again live in the US, I am becoming more and more inclined to tip…everyone and everywhere.  I tip the waiter, I tip the valet, I tip my hairdresser, and I tip my dog’s groomer…the list can go on and on.  Tipping is now a responsibility, not a good gesture.  And I am quickly beginning to feel imprisoned by it.

Why?

Because for those of us, who are used to a different “culture” of tipping — either because we’ve lived overseas for a long time or have been brought up in another country — the tipping is still a choice.  One can still forego a tip if the service was bad and not feel horrible after the fact for days.  When you move to the US, that choice is taken away.  You must tip.  Or you’ll rot in hell of “cheapskates” forever.

So much it is a “must” for most Americans, that the tipping question has become one of our first questions before we travel somewhere.  “How much do we tip?” we ask our friends or contacts nervously.  My experience with answers is usually the same.  “It doesn’t matter,” my friends say, “if you like the service you tip what you want.”  No expectation, no counting percentages, no agonizing.  How liberating.

The restaurant where I left a 36% tip happens to be in the part of the United States that receives a lot of international tourism.  They include the tip because they know that foreigners are not “imprisoned” by the “tip culture” of the US and so, unless they count the tips in, they may not get them.  Smart thinking on their part.  Not too smart on mine.

I read my receipts a lot more carefully now.  And I’ve noticed that here many restaurants include the tip.  I think I prefer it that way.  It leaves out the guesswork of how much to tip — and it liberates me from worrying, if I have tipped enough.

What about you?  What is your cultural experience with tipping?

The people who read this post also read:

What makes repatriation difficult?

Cross-Cultural Intelligence 101: Tip 3 — Leave Your Assumptions At Home

Cross-Cultural Intelligence 101: Tip 2 — Pay Attention

Copyright © 2009 by Global Coach Center.
If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us!