Resources: Notes on Life and Language in the United States

Cultural Competence Quiz! Do You Know How to Work with Americans?

Posted by Lindsay McMahon on Tue, Apr 09, 2013 @ 07:41 AM

cultural competence quiz  working with AmericansDo you know how to work with American people?

Perhaps you were a successful professional back in your home country, but then you got relocated to your company's branch in the United States.

Do you ever feel out of place in your new work environment? Do you often get confused about why your American colleagues act the way they do?

Until now, maybe you have always thought that the problem was your English skills.

However, you have noticed that the miscommunication and misunderstandings go deeper than just grammar and vocabulary.

It seems that you and your American colleagues communicate, solve problems, negotiate, and lead team meetings differently and this makes it tough to work together as a team. What can you do? Learn more about how to do business with American people and figure out your own cultural norms and communication style as well!

Take today's quiz to find out how culturally competent you are in the American workplace!



If this quiz could help your colleagues, please share it on Twitter!



Is this quiz going to teach me stereotypes about Americans?


question mark signNo. This quiz will give you some research-based cultural dimensions that intercultural professionals have found tend to be true about many Americans in the workplace.

When we stereotype, we assume that all people within a given culture will act according to these cultural dimensions. Of course they will not!

This quiz will help you find out the ways in which you might differ from your American colleagues and why. This quiz is not meant to create stereotypes.

Please be warned! Today we are looking at American culture on a very general level. We are not taking into account some other things that could create cultural norms such as:


  • Context- the situation at any given time
  • Company culture, norms, and values
  • Gender
  • Region
  • Urban versus rural
  • Individual differences



Take the quiz!


1) "The squeaky wheel gets the grease" is a common American proverb. What does it mean?

  • squeaky wheelA- It's better to speak loudly than to speak quietly
  • B- If you need something, it's important to be assertive, vocal, and persistent. You must ask for it directly and repeatedly until you get it.
  • C- In the U.S., your car is a big part of your identity and you should take good care of it




2) Which is NOT a great way to begin small talk with an American colleague:

  • A- "Hey, did you get stuck in that traffic jam this morning? It was incredible, wasn't it?"
  • B- "I love your tie! How much did it cost?"
  • C- "So what are you up to this weekend?"




3) In the U.S., how can you tell if a 25 year old person has truly "grown up" and is mature.

number twenty five

  • A- He visits his family often and stays in touch
  • B- He listens to advice from others
  • C- He doesn't rely on anyone for money, doesn't live at home with his parents, and he makes his own decisions





4) When you meet an American, what will he or she want to learn about you first?

  • A- What you do for a career
  • B- What your religion is
  • C- Who your parents are, the family name, what social class you come from




5) What kind of success is most respected in the United States?

money   american cultural values

  • A- Winning the lottery and giving the money away to people who need it in the community
  • B- "Rags to riches" story where someone is born into a hard financial situation and becomes successful through hard work and dedication
  • C- Inheriting money from family and maintaining the upper class status and a good reputation for the family name




6) Your American colleague sometimes disagrees with your manager about strategy at meetings and offers his own ideas. What do other American colleagues think about this?

  • A- They think he is self-centered and not a team player
  • B- They think he is at risk of losing his job because he challenges the boss
  • C- They think he is creative and they respect his confidence and his ability to speak his mind




7) If there is a disagreement between two American colleagues, what is the most important thing to do?

  • tug of war, arguments at work, american cultureA- Save face (reputation) by not saying that anyone is wrong
  • B- Let someone with more authority decide who is correct
  • C- Stick to the facts and figure out who is correct, even if that means that one person will lose credibility in front of other colleagues




8) What trait is most valued in the U.S. workplace?

  • A- Creativity and hard work
  • B- Humility and downplaying your accomplishments
  • C- Being respectful of supervisors and knowing one's place in the company hierarchy




9) You have been asked to lead a meeting between two departments in your company. This is the first time the two groups have met. What is the most important thing for you to do?

  • leading a meeting with Americans at work in EnglishA- allow colleagues to spend time building their professional relationships before starting meeting tasks
  • B- Introduce everyone properly with their correct names, titles, and positions in the company. Make sure that people know who the leaders are
  • C- Leave a little bit of time for small talk then stick to the agenda and finish the meeting on time so that you don't waste anyone's time



 You can get the quiz answers here


Did you find this quiz helpful? If you are interested in helping your colleagues or employees gain the skills to do business in the United States, click on the green button below and we will arrange a time to discuss your needs and goals.




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Photo credits: Parker Knight, Colin_K,AMagillDaveBleasdale, maveric2003, BFS Man,

Topics: United States Culture, Cultural Competence

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