They're Afraid of Americans

I want out with a French guy whilst studying English in college. He would have prolonged rants about Americans abroad. The loudness factor was quite disconcerting to him. The boorish behavior, the inability to appreciate the culture around them as they instead yapped about the greatness of their homeland.

Oh, and he thought the word "boobs" was hilarious. We worked on his pronunciation, which was more like "bubs", to no avail.

I do have a point.

The World Citizens Guide has put together and is distributing a, well, world citizens guide for Americans travelling in all of the other wonderful countries on this beleagered planet.

The tips in the booklet include:
  • Be proud of the American way, but remember it's not the only way
  • Listen at least as much as you talk
  • Save the lecture for your kids
  • Speak lower and slower
  • Think as big as you like, but talk and act smaller
  • Dress up -- you can always strip down.
"While we are still admired for what people describe as our youthful enthusiasm, optimism and can-do spirit, we are seen as loud, arrogant and completely ignorant of cultures outside the US," says Keith Reinhard, founder of Business for Diplomatic Action (BDA), the non-profit group that created the pamphlet.

The BDA site features an article titled America's Sagging Brand which covers many of the reasons for the compilation of this booklet. The 16-Nation Pew Global Attitudes Survey reveals the ugly side of America as perceived by everyone else.

According to Andrew Kohut, "America's image is at a low ebb: where once it was considered the champion of democracy, America is now seen as a self-absorbed, militant hyperpower."

Reinhard said the suggestions in the four-page guide were compiled following a survey of people in some 96 countries.

"The responses were quite consistent across regions," he said. "The single word that came up more than any other single word was the word 'respect.'"

Said a New Zealander, "would it be possible, perhaps, to dial down the volume?" We are a loud bunch, aren't we? Regular human P.A. systems.

A German man was puzzled about, "how America could pretend to lead the world when it doesn't know anything about the world", while another said that "in globalizing the world, America forgot to globalize itself".

Business leaders in Western Europe and Germany are irked as well. Their list of complaints include the obsewrvations that American executives do not dress properly, are messy and are not always attuned to other countries' business practices.

One corporate executive in Duesseldorf was more than a little put aback that drones of Wal-Mart were encouraged to recite a company cheer every morning in order to build team spirit. Ew.

Reinhard leaves Americanswith this advice: "Slow down, listen and learn."

No comments: