Ukrainian habits that harm US friendship and career - ForumDaily
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Ukrainian habits that harm friendship and career in the US

Фото: Depositphotos

Usually, Ukrainians who immigrate to the United States are not too difficult to adapt. Hardworking and observant, we find work and friends. We are able to organize into large and active diaspora communities.

But very often the “mental cockroaches” brought with us—habits in work and communication that seem normal in Ukraine—cross out our achievements and limit our prospects.

The features that will be discussed further are not habits inherent in Ukrainians from time immemorial, but rather a legacy of Soviet times. They are not exclusively Ukrainian: no less, and often even more, according to my observations, they are inherent in Russians and residents of other post-Soviet countries and Eastern European countries. But for convenience, I will talk about Ukrainians.

I also note that not all habits are extremely negative. Some, in my opinion, it would be nice to inoculate Americans in a small dose. And, of course, not all of them are inherent in every person evenly. As commentators say in Facebook, "Everyone has everything differently."

Everything described below is my personal conclusions based on my own 12 experience of years of studying and living in the USA and the experience of friends and acquaintances. When I say “Americans” or “in the USA”, I mean the mainstream. I assume that in the Amish community, in gangs from El Salvador and even to Brighton Beach, the expectations are somewhat different. Please my opus and perceive.

Inability to plan and stick to plans

In the US, you don't have to be a big boss to have a calendar of meetings and events. The up to the minute schedules of some 9-year-olds, loaded with school and sports, may be brute force, but I consider the fact that adults, after being offered to meet, get their calendars and are looking for time that everyone is happy with, are wonderful.

Although some "mental cockroaches" still continue to live and breed in my own brain, in this regard, I was probably born Americanized. The school diary was transformed into a notebook almost immediately after graduation, which helped me study in the in-patient department and work full-time in the newspaper. True, it partly interfered in the romantic life: not one fan disappeared when I was looking at the date offer, I looked at this notebook and answered: “Ok, next Tuesday after seven or on Thursday, April 8, in the morning”.

I warn everyone who travels to the USA: there is no analogue to the word “call you up” in English. What does this even mean? Will you tell me, will you, or will nobody do anything? And if in personal relations it can still be understood as a soft form of refusal, then what does this mean in business relations? And most importantly, they call and ask: “What are you doing now?”.

And in the USA it is normal to plan for a month, two, or even six months in advance. Wedding in general is often planned for the year.

I remember how in Ukraine, in 2007, in a month I was asked to organize meetings of Danish officials with Ukrainian ones. This was the subject of jokes in our office: who among our officials knows what he will do in the distant future? Now I am even surprised that they turned so late.

Since people are serious about planning, they adhere to these plans, if there are no very important reasons. In the past two years in Ukraine, my duties included meetings with deputies and other high-ranking officials. Meetings were planned mainly for the day and were often canceled with the same ease and at the last moment. It seemed that their time was perceived by these people as a product that participates in a constant tender - who will submit an application cooler? Subsequently, I began to act like American Airlines — agreed on more negotiations than I physically could handle.

Excessive straightness, criticality and lack of delicacy

Anyone who has ever posted a “cry of the soul” in Facebook, to get in the comments “Learn to place commas first”, is familiar with this spiritual trait of the Ukrainian people. I’ll reveal a big secret: it’s not at all necessary to correct all the mistakes and point out all the flaws that you notice.

And I’m working hard on this myself. Just recently, an American journalist gave me a ride home and talked about his work abroad. “Tashkent is an interesting city. But almost only Russians live there, Uzbeks live mainly in villages and small towns.” “It’s not true,” I blurted out against my will. “I think that there are no more than 20% Russians there.” After which I took out my smartphone and found information to confirm my words. “Well, why did I do this? — I scolded myself, getting out of the car. “Not a single Uzbek will appreciate it, and my relationship with him may deteriorate.”

My girlfriend, who is married to an American, tells how going to visit him, he warns her: "Darling, they have a new repair, and you liked everything."

“Criticism is disrespect for the taste and judgment of another person,” an American friend taught me during my first year of living in the United States. We went to the store, she tried on the dress and asked my opinion.

“Mariel, don’t buy it under any circumstances. “It looks like it’s made of paper,” I answered honestly.

“On the other hand,” Mariel continued to reflect on our cultural differences, “if you say that something suits me, then I will definitely know that it is so.”

Mark Manson, the author of the bestseller “The Delicate Art of Not Worrying,” came to a similar conclusion. He was amazed when a girl on a date in St. Petersburg clearly told him where he was wrong, and decided that this is how he should live. I think he’s wrong here too: post-Soviet directness comes not from the inability to lie, but from the lack of the habit of worrying about how your words will be perceived by another person. “They carry water to the offended,” they quoted the mythical practice of delivering water in our school.

At least, in all the above cases, a good idea, although it came to the forehead, but without aggression. And with the journalist, we were even able to agree that both are right: he was in Tashkent 25 years ago, when the ethnic composition of the city was different.

At the same time, unfortunately, many people from the countries of the former Soviet Union have an aggressive reaction to any thought that does not coincide with their own. This is especially noticeable in social networks. And if we are talking about Russian aggression abroad, this can be understood. But how can you explain the flow of insults during the discussion on the topic, and where and if you can eat delicious in the US?

Rejection of "weightless" complaints

We tend to reject the complaints of others when we believe that they are not weighty enough to deserve our sympathy.

“I found something to complain about. Our great-grandmothers gave birth in the field/grandfathers plowed the land/and our children walked to school in the neighboring village...” - from this series. In the USA, people of the older generation do this, but Ukrainians, in my experience, at any age can be taken aback by such an answer.

Even worse, when the negative experience of others is used for self-affirmation and search for the shortcomings of the interlocutor. “Didn't you like the food in the restaurant?” And I'm fine. It's just that your stomach is weak. ” "Two hours on the subway getting? And do not live in such a village. I got in 10 minutes. ” (The last is a real conversation, in variations of which I have repeatedly participated.)

Once, when I was living in Ukraine, I was asked to do four volunteers. ”Peace Corps - show them the city, help buy shampoos, toothbrushes, etc. We came to some eatery and brought one of the guys tea with lemon, and he wanted no lemon. The waitress was in no hurry to correct the error, and Brian was on the verge of a sharp cultural shock. For some reason I took the side of the institution:

—Are you allergic to lemon? — I asked Brian.

- Нет.

- Well, drink.

This stereotypical Ukrainian, who rolls her eyes at the "ridiculous" complaints of others, was described by comedian Maria Shekhata in NewYorkTimes. “I was given a list of therapists and only one Ukrainian woman was available. Although I liked her, she didn’t sympathize with me much. When I told her that hot water was lost in my apartment, she said: “It’s incredible what you Americans complain about.” And when I told her that I had a problem with establishing clear boundaries with other people, she replied: "And in Russia there is the same problem."

And this is a double-edged sword. My sister, a dentist who also lives in the United States, says that the most difficult part of her job is to deal with parents of children who, in response to any demonstration of discomfort from their descendants, instead of saying “Fuck the Cossack, you will be the chieftain” begin to sympathize and regret, causing them a real tantrum.

Since in this regard I am an unreformed mother, and my husband is a former military man, a real Cossack is growing here. If necessary, he can go 7 kilometers, wake up in 4 in the morning (on the plane). If he is hungry or thirsty, he will inform us about this need and wait patiently for her satisfaction, never whine and do not complain about anything. This is true, but you see how I asserted myself on the shortcomings of others - it is not necessary to do so.

Sometimes not only problems, but also personal experience (“it seemed to you”) and achievements (“you were lucky”) are depreciated, which is not at all ugly.

Unsolicited Tips

Ukrainians sometimes give advice that no one asks for them. I was most impressed by my acquaintance who met me on the subway, carefully saw my forehead, then (very long ago) with acne, and asked: “Have you not tried to take pimples with alcohol?”.

In the United States (and I'm talking about the mainstream again), unsolicited advice is perceived as a demonstration of one's own superiority and interference in the personal space of another person. Even on online forums where women post questions for other mothers to share their experiences with, American women are cautious. “This, of course, is none of my business, and everyone has their own circumstances, but here we have it this way...” they are ahead of the recommendation on how to potty train a child.

And I hope that it is no longer necessary to write about the fact that you cannot impose your life choice as the only right one (when to marry, how many and in general have children, where to live and what you have). This is clear, right?

But here you should not be confused with recommendations - if you tell an American that you are going somewhere, and he was already there, you run the risk of running into a whole list of offers, where you should go, what restaurant you have and what to do.

Nagging and complaints

Although we sometimes find it difficult to express sympathy to others - “Was the water turned off? You didn’t live in Troyeshchina!” — many of us don’t see a problem in pouring out all the sad details of our lives wholesale onto another person.

An American friend of mine asked my advice regarding her yoga instructor, an immigrant from Ukraine. She invited her for coffee, after which in 30 minutes she told her her entire biography, in which there was not a ray of happiness and joy. A friend, a government lawyer, had two versions: either she was lonely and had no one to talk to, or she was looking for legal help. “This is how she communicates,” I gave my assessment of the situation. It turned out that the woman managed to tell her story to all the class visitors without asking for specific help.

At the same time, American psychologists advise people not to be afraid to share their troubles with loved ones - the sympathy of others helps maintain mental health, not slip into depression and save on a psychoanalyst. For myself, I came to the following conclusion: I can cry myself, and I will listen to the complaints of other people without judgment, but in a narrow family circle.

Education is not only about parents and school. First of all, this is what we do in relation to ourselves. And if self-education and self-improvement at home can be a useful thing, then in immigration it is vital. Sometimes visitors achieve this easily and quickly by making minor changes in their behavior. In other cases, this takes years or even decades.

The original column is published on the website of the Ukrainian service.VOA".

Text translation prepared editionNew time".

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