It’s soccer world cup time, right ? What about having a world cup of complaining? Pretty sure France would win! And another one for sugar coated smiley wonderland : the winner is… the USA!
Let's dig a bit
Open your eyes and smile
Coming from Paris, that was a choc. Just take the morning metro commute : everybody is grumpy and disagreeable; and you better not ask for assistance. It does not take long to see how friendly people are in the USA. Of course in the service industry, the attitude is just irreproachable but overall people are nice, friendly and easy going. It is just like if people had chosen to have a smile by default. Of course it depends on the situation, but most of the times they’ll show you their happy face.
Get the basic kit for the positive attitude
A 2 part kit :
The words : 2 levels
Basic : add key words like awesome, great, wonderful, perfect, incredible, exciting etc to your vocabulary
Advanced : see the list in the links below with recommended positive words
The attitude: it is not only about the words and the smile on the day to day (highly appreciated), It is about thinking positive; encouraging people before criticizing while is actually poorly perceived. Instead of having a risk based communication with your friend who is presenting you the most out of the blue project, you need to find a way to be positive, to support, to encourage her/him, highlighting the positive. By focusing on the positive, the negative might fade away anyway so why bother focusing on it ? people will learn from their mistake anyway... so why focusing on it then and look like the bad cop ?
Mind the gap
And here comes the tricky part… A nice and friendly permanent smile does not mean being a friendly culture overall. Look at the criteria choosing by Forbes on its ranking of the friendliest countries in the world, you will see that America is not the winner in the end despite of the smile !
One point I would like to cover here : some expressions could not mean what you think they mean : it looks friendly but this might not be. Let me explain with an easy example that my french friend told me before I came and I cannot thank her too much for that : the ‘let’s get a coffee sometimes’. It is generally just a polite way of saying something. It does not mean that you are already planning for a coffee.
This is just one example but overall, you will have to learn how to read between the lines of this positive culture. Americans are people like everyone and they have things to complain about. It just takes a little more effort to actually get to know people so that you can have more real conversation, more honesty and start to see the complaining french part that everybody has deep inside.
So based on that
Isn’t it refreshing to think positive first in the end ? to value action whatever they are and no matter how successful they are rather than spending forever planning, pointing fingers and criticizing ? It takes some practice to adapt but if you mix it properly with an action focused thinking, the result can actually pretty nice.