Chapter 2

Why Think or Act Differently?

The U.S. is losing friends around the world at an alarming rate. This anti-American sentiment affects all of us. Unless this trend of anti-Americanism is reversed, it will continue to negatively impact not only U.S. business expansion and the ability of U.S. brands to successfully compete in the world market, but also your future as a citizen of the U.S. There are four primary root causes for why some global communities feel negatively toward the U.S. and its citizens. They are:

1. united states public policy

Instead of highlighting the U.S. as a crusader for freedom and democracy, our involvement and political stance on the global stage has signifi cantly tarnished our reputation around the world. Our most recent policy decisions have not changed international opinion. We should know that not everyone approves of our U.S. foreign policy.

2. negative effects of globalization

The increasing economic integration of the world economy has been the subject of much debate. Many around the world feel as though they have not been provided opportunities to truly partner in globalization. And the U.S. is seen as the engine of globalization and therefore a deep seated resentment occurs where many local communities and cultures still do not yet have access to the the benefits that we take for granted, such as technology and educational opportunities.

3. our popular culture

Our culture, our brands, our politics, our personality is everywhere. Our society — as illustrated by our products, entertainment, celebrities — has global reach. And the world comes to know us by what is most publicly exported: Coca Cola, McDonalds, Nike and Hollywood. We are as much represented by these icons than by anything else that we do or say. U.S. citizens may not be accurately described by entertainment programming. So the world rarely sees our ordinary daily lives. What’s more, they feel their local culture is threatened by the pervasiveness of our cultural product.

4. our collective personality

We are a successful, powerful and joyful people. We are accustomed to it. Even the poorest among us are wealthy by much of the world’s standards. We are outgoing and assertive. Our comfortable overt friendliness is louder and seemingly less sincere than many cultures are prepared for. As a result, we are often collectively thought to be loud, large, insincere and wasteful.

These perceptions are powerful opinion shapers. Although we, as students, cannot make new foreign policy or change the world economy or global media, we can work in other areas to make an impact on the way the world views us. If we can make a positive impact as Americans in foreign countries, it could lead to a healthier and brighter future.

Keep these four root causes in mind along with the helpful suggestions in the next chapters as you travel the world and you’ll make a better impression not only for yourself, but also for your nation.

an intimidating force

Be aware that where you come from can be intimidating. Frequently, in international relationships, U.S. citizens have a higher position, more money and more power. That could put others in a defensive position. If you act like you would to any other American and not like you are better than others, you’ll be more easily accepted. Remember, you are the foreigner.

Culture questions


If you are invited to dinner, should you arrive early? On time? Late? If so, by how much


What’s the attitude toward drinking?


Do some flowers have a particular significance?


How do people greet one another? Shake hands? Embrace or kiss? How do they leave one another?