Largely fuelled by American television & fanny pack wearing, overzealous tourists, there are plenty of stereotypes about Americans that aren’t always so positive. Before I lived in NYC for a year I never knew that Americans can be some of the friendliest, caring, intelligent and well-spoken people.
Here are 10 things we can learn from Americans:
1. Share the love
Tall Poppy Syndrome cuts us New Zealander’s down to size anytime we think about getting too big for our boots. In the States it doesn’t exist. America is the sort of place where you say “I’d love to go to the moon” and someone will reply with, “Oh I know an astronaut, I’ll give you their info so you can connect”.
2. Get them on the phone
Emails have there place of course, but Americans are amazing at getting people on the phone. This has a great result: issues get solved faster.
3. Put them on Speakerphone
Speaking of getting people on the phone – why not have them on speakerphone so everyone can listen and contribute?
4. Speak clearly
Us kiwis might embrace our very casual way of speaking, but on a global stage it doesn’t actually serve us well. Not being understood drove me nuts the first three months I lived in NYC. I couldn’t go into a store and order anything without having to repeat myself at least three times. I thought I was speaking clearly and they were being lazy. The truth is – I wasn’t. I didn’t adopt an American accent, but I did (and still do) consciously annunciate my words, I spoke more slowly, especially when on the phone, and tried to say my name clearly before spelling it. I also put emphasis on the “a” and “e”, which are often confused.
5. Introduce everyone
American’s are big on introducing everyone in the room or on the call. You never have to wait there awkwardly waiting for someone to acknowledge your presence, but it does mean when you’re playing host you need to make sure everyone gets an introduction.
6. Be confident
American’s also aren’t afraid to put themselves out there either. Whether in social settings or the work place, they’re good at expressing themselves confidently. I always hoped just a little would brush of on me; according to my parents it has.
7. Be sincere
American’s value sincerity more than anything else. You always know where you stand with people. If someone says something to you – they probably mean it. Now that I live in London and am constantly subjected to fake politeness, I appreciate the American sincerity even more.
8. Be polite
I always thought I was polite. I said my “pleases” and “thank you’s” and “excuse me’s,” but American’s say all of those and more. It’s unheard of to sneeze without someone (even a complete stranger on the Subway) saying “bless you”. The” bless you” is then followed up with a “thank-you”. People hold doors, people say “you’re welcome” they also mind their P’s and Q’s, which brings me to my next point:
9. Don’t swear
Swearing if frowned upon in the workplace, it’s also not often heard in social settings either. Swearing actually makes a person sound uneducated and American’s rarely sound uneducated (unless their trying to locate New Zealand on a map).
10. Don’t overindulge
Drinking to get drunk is a college fad in America. Passed that stage, drinking is more of an addition to social activities rather than an activity in itself. Pre-drinking is not a big thing and it makes for a much nicer experience when going out. No one is screaming, vomiting, or falling over.