Thursday, May 11, 2006

UGLY AMERICANS

No, it has nothing to do with my looks, but a new company seeks to teach Americans how to act overseas:
Enter Business for Diplomatic Action Inc. (BDA), a non-profit organization founded by advertising executive Keith Reinhard after a worldwide survey of attitudes toward Americans convinced him that "our collective personality is one of the root causes of anti-Americanism."

"We are seen as loud, arrogant and completely self-absorbed," said Reinhard, chairman emeritus of the advertising agency DDB Worldwide. "People see in us the ultimate arrogance -- assuming that everybody wants to be like us."

My recent overseas travel has caused me to give these issues a bit of thought already. The new group offers some good advice:
*** Think as big as you like but talk and act smaller. In many countries, any form of boasting is considered rude. Talking about wealth, power or status -- corporate or personal -- can create resentment.

*** Speak lower and slower. In conversation, match your voice level and tonality to the environment and other people. A loud voice is often perceived as bragging. A fast talker can be seen as aggressive and threatening

*** Dress up. You can always dress down. In some countries, casual dress is a sign of disrespect. Check out what is expected and when in doubt, err on the side of the more formal and less casual attire. You can remove a jacket and tie if you are overdressed. But you can't make up for being too casual.

***Listen at least as much as you talk. By all means, talk about America and your life in the country. But also ask people you're visiting about themselves and their way of life. Listen, and show your interest in how they compare their experiences to yours.

I've not seen the entire list, but it probably should be handed out to everyone boarding an international flight. Yes, it's common sense, but trust me, it's not always followed. (Right, JC?)

1 comment:

Tracy Prater said...

I'd like to see americans apply these rules to our culture.