Understanding Culture: Germany, England & the Americans April 2014

Cross cultural understanding. I have learned enough about the Germans “as a people” to know to send them an image someone uploaded of two loaves of bread hollowed out in a manner that left them shaped to be used as ‘house shoes’. I was right that they appreciated this. The cause, if you don’t know is simple: Germans are world masters of multiple types of bread “over 300 breads” and love slippers, but call them ‘house shoes’.

The good news, which is also the bad news, about the Germans is that they tend to speak truthfully. This is does not mean that they never lie, but they emphasize clarity and directness in speech and behavior, as if we were all just work colleagues at all times. The reason this is perceived as bad by foreigners is that it is not polite in many cultures to be so clear and direct. It is good when you really want to know what is going on, but can seem a bit rough.

The English, and apparently also the Austrians have the opposite problem of being so charming and polite at all times, that the truth was so badly sacrificed that often people are not sure if they ever tell the truth, and that it is very difficult to know where one stands with anyone because, well, if it isn’t good, then there has to be an underground movement or high level security for anyone to tell anyone the actual truth.

Americans are inconsistent by comparison, being made from ethnically diverse peoples. With Americans the main thing is to understand that they were all taught to smile big and pretend to be extroverted as much as possible, even if they are shy and miserable. If it seems unnatural – maybe it is. Think loads of sugar…not even in a romantic sense, but more the way teachers have known for decades the way the kids act in the afternoon when they had sweets at the lunch break. The Americans are all on sweets.

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