Despite the obvious common denominator between many of the western countries -- like the US and Northern Europe -- there is a subtle but significant and often overlooked cultural difference in verbal confirmations, which may be the source of vital misunderstandings.
Projects with participating English and Americans often suffer from what appears to be the same language. Words and dictionary definitions may be shared, but the cultural difference in expressions surrounding essential aspects like agreements and confirmations may prove aligned expectations to be world apart.
A British employee is asking his American boss if it is OK to save the time and fly direct even though it would require business class. The American answer is a value statement suggesting that it is not looked upon favorably to incur the additional expense.
The British employee will consider the answer vague and uncommitted, and he may persistently pursue a plain yes/no statement. In contrast, the American employer will consider the answer excruciatingly clear and hold the Employee to be rude in not making the personal choice of following the corporate values and the gentle suggestion.
The problem is that both are “right”. According to their cultural paradigm and the prism through which such statements are made and evaluated, the answer is both vague and precise. Understanding these differences and agreeing on a middle ground with amble room for clarifying questions is critical to project success when reaching across the big pond.