Three differences in American mentality that may surprise you
The longer I live in the United States, the more convinced I am about how diverse this country is. Impressions of immigrants living in different parts of it sometimes differ dramatically. Some visitors describe extremely responsive passers-by who are ready to rush to the rescue of any visitor, while others, on the contrary, may complain about tough American corporations, “squeezing all the juice” from unfortunate immigrants, as well as the sometimes impenetrable immigration bureaucracy.
Of course, in America, as in any large country, you can find almost anything, and it is almost impossible to drive this variety under some common patterns. Anything can happen in life, and it is quite possible that concrete people actually face injustice. But sometimes I observe that in many respects the problems of “our people” are caused by the difference in mentalities, which immigrants from the post-Soviet space do not always guess.
Let's give a simple example. An immigrant of mine, a clever and hard worker, developed a significant social project and decided to apply for a grant to implement it. Talking with potential grantors, he decided to impress them and show in detail what his brainchild would look like. As a result, he pulled himself up with the last effort and collected all his resources and began to implement the project on his own in the hope that he would be more willing to allocate money for the finished business. As a result, he was not given any grants. What is the matter?
From the point of view of the post-Soviet mentality, the acquaintance acted absolutely correctly: he demonstrated that he would be able to implement the project, moreover, he was so committed to the cause that he was ready to do it at his own expense until help arrived. However, from the American point of view, the main thing that he had to prove was that he would not be able to realize his venture. without grant, and show what exactly he needs money. Therefore, in the eyes of Americans, my acquaintance by his actions proved only one thing - that he is able to realize his project. without any money. Against this background, his grant application looked almost like a fraud.
Based on this and other similar stories, we will try to formulate some features of the American mentality.
1. Presumption of voluntariness. Since childhood, we are accustomed to a hyper-developed sense of duty to society or the state, as well as to the severity of "insuperable circumstances", it is natural to assume that if a person does not get along, it is quite possible that "this is the way of life", I have to do it due to circumstances ”or are treated unfairly. But in America, as in a free country, there is a presumption that, if you do something, you can and want do it. If you work at an unloved job for a small salary, it means that you like it, otherwise you would ask yourself a bigger salary or change your job, wouldn't you? If you carry out heavy duties of a volunteer for free, then everything suits you. If it stopped arranging you, you would stop doing it, right? After all, no one, in fact, forces you to do this with a pistol at the temple!
Of course, the first reaction of a man "from our latitudes" would be to object: "Wait, it's not that simple!" But the Americans, alas, most often everything is just that simple. One may scold them for their primitiveness and earthiness, but believe me, it will be very difficult for you to explain to your American friends why you endure a life that does not suit you and do not try to change it.
2. The second directly follows from the first - Americans do not understand the hints. Some things they need to say in plain text. Without arrogance, without pressure, without rudeness, of course, but most honestly, and most importantly, at. In the post-Soviet culture, it is customary to complain about life, the severity of being and the general existential imperfection of the universe, which, however, is often expressed in a more mundane formula: “Wife is a bitch, boss is a fool, colleagues are scoundrels, and wages are small”. In the Russian and other cultures close to it, such complaints themselves are perceived as a call for help. In Russia, if colleagues see that the boss is “spreading rot” to their colleague for no reason, they, perhaps, will also intercede for him, because “this cannot be done with our comrade”. But in America, everything is different.
In America, it makes no sense to complain about hard life in the void - you just do not understand. If you think that you have been offended, you should go to the offender and explain to him what, in your opinion, he is wrong, or complain to the boss, and not to an unlimited number of “sympathizers”. By the way, to speak badly in ordinary conversations about colleagues and washing their bones in America is considered to be a bad form. Simply put, any problem that arises has its own solution algorithm. If you are not satisfied with the behavior of your wife, and conversations with her do not help - try to contact a psychologist. If even a psychologist did not help, most likely you should get a divorce. If you do not do this, it means (see p. 1) - everything suits you. But if everything suits you, why are you complaining then?
Therefore, it often happens that even if Americans see that you are really suffering, or that you have been treated unfairly, they do not really understand what to do about it. After all, if you do not take any action to change your position (and sometimes these actions can be prescribed by strictly bureaucratic procedures, such as seeking material assistance or a grant), based on the presumption of voluntariness, everything that happens is your choice. It turns out that you prove one thing with your actions, and quite another with complaints. If for us such behavior is practically the norm (tell me, who from “our people” did not complain about life?), Then for Americans it is almost an insoluble contradiction.
In addition, if you just curse the world around, and do not ask for specific advice, many Americans just do not dare to advise you something. Distributing advice without demand here is considered bad form, and it is worth admitting that this is quite true.
Sometimes nothing can offend more than condescending teachings from strangers who do not know your situation, and who, most importantly, you in principle did not ask you to advise something. Therefore, most often, they intervene in your situation without demand only if you become a victim of a crime, and you will have to call the police. Before that, Americans simply would not risk breaking your privacy.
This largely explains the contrast when Americans, on the one hand, can be extremely kind and generous to victims of natural disasters, terrorist attacks, the disabled and the poor, but are indifferent and sometimes cruel to “ordinary” people not suffering from serious diseases. and capable of making money. The fact is that in the case of the victims and the poor obviouslythat they need help, but in your case, forgive me, this is not at all obvious, as long as you do not directly ask for it yourself.
3. There is no culture of self-sacrifice in America. There is a very developed culture of volunteering and charity, but for God's sake, do not confuse it with self-sacrifice! Again, see p.1 - usually a person is engaged in charity, if he has the opportunity to do so. In the extreme conditions of our historic homeland, volunteering often turns into some kind of almost sacred service to people at the expense of itself, because “there is no one else”, “debt calls”, and “if not us, then who?”. Accordingly, we secretly believe that the whole society should support such a hero. But in America, volunteering is far from pure altruism. Free work here most often has bonuses in the form of training, obtaining the necessary skills, improving career opportunities or the possibility of entering the college. Therefore, if a person engages in volunteering, it is understood that it is primarily necessary for him.
It is also believed that he should do this to the best of his ability, without anguish and “throwing at the embrasure”. The situation described in the example with my acquaintance from the series: “I really can’t do it without money, but I’m ready to break, sacrificing my last savings and health, although I won’t last so long” too complicated and incomprehensible to the American. Either you can and you do, or you can not and do not. Heroism here, more often than not, will not be appreciated, because, no matter how great it is, again - this is your choice, and no one is to blame for what you have done. And this, too, must be prepared, without placing great hopes on those who use your services.
Thus, no matter how sometimes you think that it is you who are right, and not those around you, it is sometimes useful to try to look at the situation from the American point of view. Maybe sometimes it is enough just to tell people what they have long wanted and expected to hear from you, and the situation can be resolved much easier than it seemed at first?
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