Comparing Canada to the U.S. has long been a favourite pastime north of the 49th. To help, British bank HSBC is offering an online guide for expats to help them navigate the cultural nuances of doing business in the two countries.
Americans, HSBC says, might seem self-centred, but only because they’ve been raised with a strong independent spirit. It’s one reason why you should never stand too close to an American “lest you impose on their sense of personal space.” Canadians meanwhile, are threatened by people who are too aggressive or ask too many direct questions. We prefer colleagues to have an “understated demeanour” and we aren’t really in touch with our feelings. During Canadian business negotiations, the bank warns, “it is better to state information with the words ‘I think’ rather than ‘I feel.’ ” If you’re attending a dinner party, Americans will gladly give you a house tour. But don’t ask for one here, since “Canadians only allow guests in their public rooms as a rule.” While in America, never “do anything that might be misinterpreted as sexual harassment,” the bank says. That warning doesn’t apply in Canada, where expats are warned to “avoid the V sign for victory” and to never, ever compare Canada with the U.S.