Wednesday, March 9, 2011

American Socializing Lifestyle

Both men and women usually smile and shake hands when greeting. Good friends and family members may embrace when they meet, especially after a long absence. In casual situations, a wave may be used instead of a handshake. Americans may greet strangers on the street by saying "Hello" or "Good morning", although they may pass without any greeting. Among young people, verbal greetings or various hand-slapping gestures, such as the "high five", are common.

Except in formal situations, people usually address one another by their first names once they are acquainted, and often do so on first meeting. Combining a title (such as "Mrs.", "Dr.", or "Ms.") with a family name shows respect. When greeting someone for the first time, Americans commonly say, "Pleased to meet you" or "How do you do?". A simple "Hello" or "Hi" is also common. There are regional variations such as "Aloha" in Hawaii or "Howdy" in parts of the West. Friends often greet each other with "How are you?" and respond "Fine, thanks". Americans do not usually expect any further answer to the question unless there is a close relationship.

Americans do not generally stand very close to each other when conversing, keeping about arm's length apart. However, they may spontaneously touch one another on the arm or shoulder during conversation. It is common for couples to hold hands or show affection in public. When sitting, both men and women are often casual when circumstances allow, and they may prop their feet up on chairs or place the ankle of one leg on the knee of the other. In more formal settings, however, it is often considered inappropriate to slouch or be too casual in demeanor.

Visiting friends, family, and acquaintances plays a big part of social life in the United States, and people will travel long distances by car, bus, train, or aeroplane to do so. People are generally expected to be on time for appointments or when they are invited to someone's home. However, if a guest is late, Americans will rarely take offence if the visitor has called in advance to inform them of the delay. In general, the emphasis during visits is on informality. Guests are expected to feel comfortable, to sit where they like, and to enjoy themselves. It usually does not cause offence if a guest refuses refreshments. Gifts are not expected when visiting, but many guests bring flowers or wine when invited for a meal. Close friends may offer, or be asked, to bring an item of food to serve with the meal.

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