Mayukh Saha
Mayukh Saha
July 7, 2024 ·  4 min read

15 Things to Never Do in the United States, According to Americans

Exploring a new country is not just about sightseeing; it’s also about understanding its culture and social norms. In the United States, a diverse tapestry of customs and etiquettes awaits travelers. To navigate smoothly through American society, it’s essential to grasp the unspoken rules and behaviors that can make or break a social interaction. From tipping practices to respecting personal space, this guide offers invaluable insights into 15 things to avoid doing in the U.S., according to Americans themselves.

1. Skimping on Tips

Tipping hotel staff
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In the U.S., tipping is essential, especially in the service industry. Not tipping or leaving a small tip can be seen as disrespectful. The standard rate is 15-20% of the bill for services like dining, where servers rely heavily on tips. A European traveler shared an experience of being asked to leave a bar in Pennsylvania for not tipping.

Read More: 25 of The Scariest Places in The United States

2. Speaking Loudly in Public

Woman screaming
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Americans generally prefer quieter volumes in public spaces like transport and libraries. While some cultures are known for their lively decibels, it’s best to keep the volume at an inside voice level to respect others’ personal space.

3. Disrespecting Personal Space

Man snooping at woman's phone
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Invading personal space unintentionally is a social faux pas in the U.S.; it’s best to maintain a respectful distance. One Redditor emphasized the importance of keeping space and being friendly without being overbearing.

4. Assuming about Ethnicity and Religion

No assumptions
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With its diverse population, assuming someone’s ethnicity or religion can lead to awkward situations. It’s safer to admire diversity rather than inquire about someone’s background.

5. Talking Politics on the Dinner Table

Family at Dinner
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Political discussions during meals can often lead to tension and discomfort. In American culture, dinner conversations are meant to be enjoyable and free from divisive topics like politics.

6. Passing Food Judgments

Broccoli
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Critiquing others’ food choices is considered impolite in the U.S., where dietary preferences vary widely. Each person’s food choices are personal, and passing judgment can be seen as rude.

Read More: 30 things Europeans do that leave Americans raising their eyebrows

7. Not Treating the Flag with Reverence

The American Flag
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

The American flag is a symbol of national pride, and any disrespect towards it is strongly frowned upon. Americans expect the flag to be treated with utmost respect, especially during events like the national anthem.

8. Not Embracing Small Talk

Social gathering
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Small talk is a common social lubricant in American culture, so embracing it can help in social interactions. Americans often engage in light conversations about topics like the weather to build rapport with others.

9. Using the Left Lane for Driving

Man driving
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In the U.S., the left lane is typically reserved for passing, so lingering in it can lead to frustration among fellow drivers. It’s important to adhere to traffic rules and keep the left lane clear for faster-moving vehicles.

10. Trying To Bribe Law Enforcement

Police talking with woman
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Attempting to bribe law enforcement officials in the U.S. can have serious legal consequences. While bribery might be accepted in some cultures, it is strictly prohibited and punishable by law in the United States.

11. Not Complying with Police Instructions

Man looking out of car door
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During traffic stops, it’s crucial to follow police instructions, including remaining in the vehicle with hands visible. Failure to comply with police directives can escalate the situation and lead to unnecessary confrontation.

12. Airport Security Jokes

Family at airport
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Making jokes about security threats at airports can result in serious consequences, including detainment. The TSA has a zero-tolerance policy for jokes or comments that could be interpreted as security threats.

13. Not Adhering to Liquor Laws

Law
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Each state in the U.S. has its own liquor laws, so it’s essential to be aware of and comply with local regulations. Violating liquor laws can result in fines or legal consequences, so it’s important to familiarize oneself with the laws of the state you’re in.

14. Improper Store Etiquette

Man and woman in a store
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Maintaining orderly conduct while shopping, such as respecting lines and merchandise, is expected in American stores. Cutting in line or mishandling merchandise can lead to confrontations with store staff or other customers.

15. Having Stereotypical Perspectives

Man with surprised look
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While stereotypes may abound, it’s important not to reduce the richness of American culture to simplistic caricatures. America’s diversity offers a wide range of experiences and perspectives that go beyond common stereotypes, and it’s essential to approach the country with an open mind.

Read More: 18 Maps That Portray The Lesser Known Facts About America

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