I have previously mentioned that my husband is from England, so because of that we recently had the pleasure of traveling to the UK to visit family. This is the fifth time I have been there, and each time I am reminded of the vast differences between English and American cultures, as well as the opinion of Americans by the British people. On my first visit, I got into a deep discussion with a perfect stranger about why the general English population do not absolutely adore Americans. It had much to do with entitlement and superiority. Add to that the stereotype that follows Americans around of being brash and loud during every possible occasion, and I suppose it does not leave much to like. By the end of the conversation, I think that I had convinced him that not all Americans act like frat boys on a daily basis and generally do refrain from walking up and down the streets chanting “MURICA, WOOOOOOOO!”
This photo is clearly a joke, but unfortunately it is how many people in other countries do believe American’s behave. I am proud of the country in which I live, but I did take his words to heart and for the rest of my visit made an extra effort to smile and be overly polite to everyone that I met, in the hopes that others would take notice and hopefully have a slight change of opinion about all Americans. On this most recent visit, I was concerned about how myself and my family would be perceived, largely because of the current political situation in our country. We mostly just received questions, mainly “Who are you voting for?”, but I still felt as though judgement could be cast because of a certain presidential candidate.
I bring all of this up because it’s important to remember that stereotypes can be dangerous. They can make us disregard people based simply upon outward appearances, accents or even profession. If my husband and I had decided that all car salesmen were slimy liars, then we never would have met Bruce at a local Chevrolet dealership, who was an angel and time and again went out of his way to get us a great deal on a car. If you’re at your place of business and see someone walk in the door who looks different than you, and you assume that they will not create much business, you could possibly miss out on a great opportunity. If my husband had believed that all Americans were rude and slovenly, then he may not have come here for coaching opportunities and we wouldn’t have two beautiful boys.
So next time you are prepared to assume the worst about someone based on outward appearances, remember that you could be missing out on something great and should take the time to look a little deeper.