Getting Along with North Americans: A Reader’s Number One TipAugust 5th, 2012 by Dean Foster | Discuss This »
We’ve been asking readers for their absolutely number one top tip (yes, you have to limit it to just one!) for communicating in various world cultures. I was particularly taken with the comment below, as it helped me, a North American, to better understand my own culture, sometimes the hardest trick for anyone, including interculturalists, to be able to do. Enjoy!
My number one tip for communicating with North American cultures is to understand clearly the culture and respect it.
Fairness and individual freedom is important to Americans, whose forefathers and mothers fought—in some cases reluctantly—against the repression and tyranny of a country under whose rule they were treated unfairly and inhumanely. That shaped their feelings of empathy toward citizens of countries who are suffering the same tyranny and inequality. Living in a democratic society does not necessarily bring about a consensus, but it will bring about decisions and order through its three branches of government, but also through the time-honored practices of protest, lobbying and term limits of elected officials may be modified or reversed. That is the power of the individual: to debate, voice her opinion and vote on important issues.
North America is quite diverse, as it includes Greenland, Canada, the U.S., Mexico, the Central American countries and the Caribbean islands. Thus it is important to know the culture and practices of the area you are visiting. Even for North Americans this is important when traveling to an area other than your own; even within the U.S the individual states vary in their local customs and can often feel like a foreign country to someone visiting from another state!