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U.S. CULTURE NOTE
· People from different cultures sometimes don't understand why Americans give so many compliments. In many cultures, too many compliments would seem insincere. For example, many Japanese people think Americans give too many compliments. A Japanese woman said she might give a compliment once a week. An American woman said that she gives at least one compliment a day.
· In many cultures when people have a close relationship (for example two close friends or a husband and a wife), they may not feel that it is necessary to give compliments to the other person. That is, they may not verbalize their thoughts. This is not usually true in the U.S. Even when people know each other well, they will verbalize their thoughts (for example, give compliments).
· A non-U.S.-born employee gave his American supervisor a gift of $200 (two hundred dollars). The employee told the supervisor, "I appreciate you and my job so much that I want you to have this." The American supervisor told him he couldn't accept the gift. The employee said, "You must accept the gift or I will quit." The supervisor told him, "You have to understand that I cannot accept this gift." The supervisor was confused and felt very bad about it when he heard that his employee quit the job.
· Most of the time Americans do accept gifts that people give to them. However, in the working places, supervisors or bosses sometimes feel uncomfortable accepting gifts and are not allowed to do so. The following are some of the reasons:
1. They do not want to feel that they have to do something special or different for the employee who gave a gift.
2. They don't want their other employee to think that they favorites among the employees.
3. They may find it difficult to criticize the their employee's work if they've just received a gift from him or her.
4. Many companies have a policy that says that a supervisor is not allowed to accept gifts from employees.
CHOOSING WORDS FOR COMPLIMENTING
Physical appearance---You have a beautiful smile. Your hair looks nice.
Personality---You have a good sense of humor. He's got a great personality.
Family member---Your wife is beautiful. Your children are cute.
Abilities---You gave an excellent speech. You teach very well
People's things (possessions)---Your car is nice. You have a beautiful home.
Meals, Food---The dinner is great. I love this dish.
Adjectives mostly used:
Nice, good, pretty, wonderful, beautiful, great, interesting, fantastic, attractive, tasty, delicious, gorgeous
GIVING AND RECEIVING GIFTS
A meal at someone's home
An overnight stay at someone's home
A bottle of wine, flowers, candy
An object from your country (for example, a dish or vase), gifts for the children
Friend's birthdays, particularly the "big" birthdays (21,25, 30, 40, 50, …75, 80, etc.)
Religious ceremonies such as Baptism (Catholic), Confirmation (Catholic), or Bar/Bat Mitzvah (Jewish)
Showers (baby showers, wedding showers)
Birth of a baby
Books, records, clothing, decorations for the house, photo albums. (This depends on the person who is giving the gift.)
Books, religious objects. (For this occasions, it is a good idea to ask people for suggestions.)
Items for the home such as dishes, pots, towels, blankets, photo albums
Baby showers: sheets, blankets, diaper bags, baby toys. Wedding shower: usually small things for the kitchen
Clothes, toys, stuffed animals, things for the baby room
Phrases and Expressions for Showing Appreciation
Thank you very much for doing what you did. You really helped me a lot.
I really appreciate your help. It means a lot to me.
Thank you for all you've done. It was a great help.
I couldn't have done it without you. Thank you very much.
I hope I can help you someday the way you helped me.
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