Culture can really affect the ability to connect with others. I now live in the middle south. People here are extremely friendly. When I first moved here, it shocked me a little to see everyone waving at me as I walked down the street. Sometimes it’s hard to get out of the grocery store because the checkout people are telling a story.
I say it shocked me “a little” because I’m used to the Brazilian culture. I’m married to a Brazilian and we’ve lived in Brazil. Brazilian culture is quite similar to the southern US culture. Brazilians tend to be extremely friendly, and will almost instinctively introduce themselves to anyone they don’t know. Everyone is a “friend” from the beginning, or at least friendly, but finding real friends is just as difficult as in any other culture.
Being from the midwest, I’ve learned a lot from these two cultures but let me first tell you about the people where I’m from. People around the south think midwesterners (or maybe “northerners”) are not friendly. But that’s not exactly true. People from the “north” are really friendly; it’s just usually more difficult to get to know us because we reserve our opinions until we get to know who you are. When you have a true friend from the north, you have a true friend for life.
So what I have learned from these other cultures where I’ve lived? The biggest thing is you really need to be friendly from the start. You can still reserve your opinion until you get to know someone, but it can’t hurt to be friendly to everyone.
DAY 23 HOMEWORK: If your nature is to be reserved when you first meet someone, try the opposite. Be friendly from the start, and see what happens. And don’t judge the way another culture creates friendships…you could learn something!