Global Leadership Blog

Professional Communication

Top Three Differences Between Doing Business on the East Versus West Coast

In doing a lot of business in cities like New York, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Phoenix, I’ve realized there are some pretty big differences between the two coasts of the U.S. The climate is different. The people look different. The architecture is different. But the way people interact in business is also very different.

One variance to take into consideration is communication:

On the East coast, people are more direct. When someone says “yes,” that means they heard you and they agree. When someone says “no,” that doesn’t mean they’re upset. Rather it means they aren’t convinced yet or interested in doing it.

People are more curt. Their sentences are shorter, perhaps, even harsher sounding. East coasters aren’t afraid to give constructive feedback in a direct way. For example, I recently heard one guy say to another, “Get out of here with that idea! It stinks!”

If this way of communicating is new to you, don’t take it personally. Just come back with another option.

If you’re doing business on the West coast, people will likely communicate more indirectly. You won’t hear someone so readily criticize an idea. Instead, they’ll say something like, “I see your point,” or “Let’s consider some other options as well.” They are more diplomatic–softer and sweeter, even.

You also won’t hear the word “no” as frequently. And when you hear the word “yes,” it may mean they’re just listening. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to take action. Be sure to ask follow-up questions to be clear on what they plan to do next.

To read the other two variances in Inc., please click here.


Image Credit: Speedskater/123RF

Melissa Lamson

About The Author

Melissa Lamson, Founder and President of Lamson Consulting, is an author, consultant, and speaker who accelerates the business expansion goals of today’s most successful companies by developing global mindset, refining leadership skills, and bridging cross cultural communication. More About Melissa Lamson