The United States of America is (if not, one of) the world’s most progressive and relatively stable countries, economy-wise compared to others. These advancements can be considered as a result of the Americans having created their own cultural identity. Parts of this identity are characteristics that made this identity into what it is. Some of these characteristicscan be considered as offensive or unacceptable to other cultures. However, for Americans it is part of their identity and it is how they grew up so they do not realize that some of their actions cause scorn from people of other nations. These characteristics will be discussed as well as some ways in order to lessen strains between people who grew up in America and those who did not.
First, Americans are very straightforward. Most of the time, this can be thought of as a good thing because they do not try to sugarcoat and give your work praise for what it is worth. It can also be seen as being truthful and it makes Americans seem more reliable. Although sometimes this can really be a barrier between Americans and people who were raised in other cultures. In the workplace, for example, when the American boss reprimands an employee he will really say that he does not like what the employee did (assume that the employee is a recent immigrant) and the employee might take it personally because he/she is not used to that kind of confrontation. Now, conflict arises between the two with the boss thinking that the employee is not capable of doing a good job because the employee’s emotions are on the surface, and the employee thinking that his/her boss has a personal issue with him/her.
Second, Americans have this belief that if you are in America, you must act and be like an American – and anything else will not be socially acceptable. This subtly egotistical side of Americans is probably the result of being recognized as the most powerful country in the world. Most Americans never find the need to go out and live outside the U.S. because life is already good here. On the other hand, people from foreign nations try so hard to get in the country in dreams of living better lives. From the perspective of a person born and raised in the U.S. that concept boosts their ego in a sense. This becomes problematic for those who move to America and eventually find it hard to adapt to the very liberal and outgoing culture present. As a result, some people become isolated from society simply because they cannot “be” Americans. But right now America’s not in the position and prestige it held before. Americans who have been so accustomed to many luxuries are experiencing the difficulties other nations go through and it is probably the best reality check these people can get. Other nations are showing extreme progress and show great promise in the future. Maybe this will change the Americans’ perceptions of themselves into a more humble light in the future.
Another characteristic is related to how Americans view family life. In America it is noticeable how people have a live-to-work attitude in which they focus on being able to stand on their own two feet without relying on other people – including family. And in other cultures, for example the Filipino culture, family is regarded as the most important thing (even more than working and making money). It is frowned upon by American society if you were a grown man and still lived with your mother, however in the Filipino culture you see everyone still living with their families (and even extended families, at some point) and it is totally okay. The fact that people in America belittle those who appear to still depend on parents and other family members causes a bit of a strain when it comes to cultural relationships.
In line with the American tendency to be egotistical, and despite how they boast of their liberalism, they also have issues with racism. A great example would be the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy which triggered immense racism towards middle-eastern people (even those who lived in the U.S. already). Again, this is because Americans think of themselves as a “better race” compared to others due to their affluence and success. They have also had a long history when it comes to issues regarding racism; such as the slavery of and racism towards black people for centuries.
Characteristic Traits of Americans. (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2013, from Louisiana State University: http://www.oip.lsu.edu/iso/pdfs/CHARACTERISTIC_TRAITS_OF_AMERICANS.pdf
Russell, C. (2008, May 29). Ten All-American Traits. Retrieved April 20, 2013, from Demo Memo: http://demomemo.blogspot.com/2008/05/ten-all-american-traits.html