It’s easy to get caught up in the negativity of daily news and focus on the bad things that are happening in the United States. But, like any country, America has its pluses as well as its minuses. While we may disagree with some of these global opinions, it’s important to remember that we’re just one of many countries that have contributed greatly to global business and development. Here are six things that Americans do well according to the rest of the world.
1) Spending time with family
While family time is important in many countries around the world, few places put as much emphasis on it as America. Family time is also less scheduled and more relaxed than in other countries—and everyone seems to get along better because of it. An annual study found that Americans spend twice as much time with their families as they do on paid work each week. Few other cultures emphasize spending quality time with loved ones as we do. So take a lesson from our neighbors across the pond: If you want better relationships with your family members, cut back on work and go for a walk together! You might be surprised by how quickly little things can improve your relationships at home or at work.
2) Taking time off after having a baby
Yes, working parents who take time off from work in order to care for a newborn are paid by their companies as if they were still on payroll—which is more than you can say for many European countries. What’s more, new parents in America are guaranteed up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave at any point during a child’s first year (or adoption). That kind of flexibility and family-friendly policy makes it easier for new moms and dads to take a breather after welcoming a child into their lives. Still not sold? When we asked our international pals what they think we do well as a country, taking time off after having kids was one of their most popular answers.
3) Being honest about health issues
Most other countries are more open about health issues than we are. When you’re conversing with someone from another country, it’s not uncommon for them to ask how your health is—both physically and mentally. In America, we don’t like talking about our illnesses or physical conditions because we’re worried about coming across as weak or pathetic. But most people from other countries find strength in vulnerability—even if they don’t know you personally! And when people know that it’s okay for them to be honest with their peers and loved ones about their mental and physical struggles, then mental illnesses and diseases can become easier to treat.
4) Maintaining friendships
In most parts of Asia and Europe, close friends are defined by their real-life proximity. In America, however, many people maintain friendships long after they’ve moved away from each other. This is particularly true in big cities where a busy social calendar can take you from party to restaurant and bar to friend’s house without ever leaving your city limits. Even if you don’t consider yourself a social butterfly, American friendships can be deep and long-lasting—and that’s worth celebrating!
5) Leaving tips in restaurants
The next time you dine out at a restaurant overseas, keep an eye on what’s happening after putting your credit card down. In most countries around the world, tipping is not customary or expected. And it may be uncomfortable if you don’t know how much to leave behind—especially since waitstaff are often paid lower wages than they would be in America. If you are one who generally leaves 15% for good service when dining out at home (or better), you could accidentally get yourself into trouble abroad by leaving too little or too much money for that awesome meal and attentive service! While tipping isn’t required in many places, it’s still nice to tip your server in some places like America for their hard work. So consider saving up some cash before you go so you can leave something extra-special as a thank-you for their hospitality.
6) Freedom of expression
While many consider Americans brash and direct, we’re often commended for speaking freely. Many international visitors are impressed by our willingness to speak openly about politics and other taboo topics in public spaces. Free speech is a cornerstone of American democracy, and we’re among one of a handful of countries around the world that allow freedom of expression so freely. Say what you want (and please do it respectfully) because you never know who else might be listening. It may not always seem like it, but polite conversation has its perks!-MM